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Niagara County preparing to restart, rethink, reconfigure

Niagara County

Niagara County wants to be ready when the quarantine is lifted, industry starts up and tourism begins to recover from the lockdown. The county is gearing up ReStart Niagara, ReThink Niagara and ReConfigure Niagara.

The initial effort is restarting Niagara's businesses and industries in an age when social distancing and wearing face coverings will continue until some future time. Explaining ReStart Niagara, County Legislature Economic Development Chair Rich Andres said companies want to get going, although many need help in this economy.

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Niagara County Legislature Economic Development Chair Rich Andres explains ReStart Niagara.

"What can you do, right now, as you're closed, to modify your workplace, to change things up, to get ready, so when we do go forward to hit the ground running?" Andres said. "Businesses are putting those plans together and I talked about Bob Confer as well and they're working on these things. These are things that they never conceived of before, but here we are and they are resourceful individuals and they are going to make this a time where they can adjust."

Andres said it is important to get tourism activities like sport fishing and winery tours up and running.

"People want to get these things open and can we do this in a safe way? And certainly you gotta balance," said Andres. "There's an old saying: safety and freedom, you gotta balance the two and if you have all safety, you have no freedom. If you have all freedom, you have no safety. We're really working hard to balance those."

Andres said county economic development agencies are getting help underway for businesses and making sure others know what help they can get in tough times.

The other parts of getting ready for the new era are ReThink Niagara, about changing government from what has been learned during the quarantine, and Re-Configure Niagara, about how to operate the county during what is expected to be a time of severe budget constraints.

Also Thursday, the Niagara County Department of Health issued the following update on positive COVID-19 cases:
"We regretfully report one new death of a Niagara County resident, a 70 year-old female with underlying health conditions. We send our deepest sympathies to her family and friends.  The rest of the update is as follows:        

  • 20 new positive cases
  • 460 positives to date (isolations + recoveries + deaths)
  • 217 in isolation
  • 194 isolating at home
  • 23 in hospital isolation
  • 219 recovered
  • 24 deaths 
  • 2,390 people tested

WBFO's Mark Wozniak contributed to this story.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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