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Chautauqua County COVID-19 numbers low, yet businesses unable to open

Posted at 6:46 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 19:10:47-04

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (WKBW) — “I want to open!”

That’s the feeling of many business owners in Chautauqua County, who still have no idea when they’ll once again be able to open their doors.

“It’s frustrating,” said Melanie Preiss, who owns Forge Gym and Performance in Lakewood.

Chautauqua County is lumped in with Erie and Niagara County on the Governor’s regional re-opening plan, despite there being less than ten active cases of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County.

“To be generalized with such a big population when we are still so small, that has been the most difficult thing,” she said.

Kyla Rodriguez and her salon Forbici Hair Design has a plan for reopening. She plans to add sanitation stations, one entrance for customers and one exit and six-foot social distancing plans.

“Let us re-open,” she said. “Let us be safe, be cautious. The cases aren’t growing here. If you’re afraid, stay home, don’t get your hair done.”

Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel says the county meets all of the 7 Governor’s re-opening requirements, if the county is split from Erie.

“He needs to look at us as a sub-region,” Wendel says.

As of 3:00 p.m. Friday, Chautauqua County has 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 33 people have recovered and 9 are active. Four people have died.

Compare that to the 4,732 cases in Erie County and the 411 COVID-19 related deaths.

“We are asking to look at the uniqueness we have in Chautauqua, Allegheny and Cattaraugus counties.

For these two female-owned businesses, it’s time to take small communities with low COVID-19 infections into considerations.