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Sheriff Howard: Thanksgiving should not be stopped "by Governor Cuomo's mandates"

Posted at 11:59 AM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 17:58:58-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is pushing back against an order from Governor Andrew Cuomo that household gatherings should be limited to 10 people to help stop a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"I have no plans to utilize my office's resources or deputies to break up the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner," Howard said in a news release this morning. "This national holiday has created longstanding family traditions that are at the heart of America, and these traditions should not be stopped or interrupted by Governor Cuomo's mandates."

New statewide mandates, which take effect tonight, require all gyms, bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m., though curbside service can continue past that time. Household gatherings must also not exceed 10 people.

On Thursday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz urged residents to limit their Thanksgiving gatherings this year to only people living in the same household. He did not say police would try to enforce the governor's mandate.

“Too many people like to talk about me. Too many people like to talk about I," Poloncarz said. "‘You’re infringing on my rights. I have a Constitutional right to do whatever I want.' We have to think about we. We are all in this together. We need to protect our community members including those that are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications including death. We need to think about we, not me. Otherwise there will be some ugly shutdowns coming fourth."

The positivity rate in the Erie County Yellow Zone has been climbing throughout the week, reaching 8.2 percent Thursday. On Wednesday, 94 people with COVID-19 were in Erie County hospitals, including 21 in intensive care. Three patients died.

Howard said he trusts the people of Erie County to do what's right.

"My office will respect the sanctity of your home and traditions, and I encourage you to follow your heart and act responsibly, as well as do what's best for your family," he said.