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New state mandate to wear masks in public puts new burden on supply

Niagara County Legislature Chair Becky Wydysh (l) and County Manager Rick Updegrove conduct their COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

Niagara County is not only battling COVID-19, it is battling to keep up with rule changes that come down from the state.

Officials updated the latest numbers at a briefing on Thursday.

Credit Niagara County
COVID-19 cases in Niagara County, as of Thursday.

"Nine new positive cases of COVID-19 to report today, giving us a total of 238 cases to date," announced Legislature Chair Becky Wydysh. "We have 113 individuals in isolation, 84 of those are isolating at home with another 29 who are in hospital isolation. The good news being that we have 116 individuals who have recovered."

Thursday also brought new mandates from Albany. Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the stay-at-home order for New Yorkers through May 15 and reminded residents that the requirement to wear a mask while out in public begins Friday at 8 p.m.

Niagara County Manager Rick Updegrove said the county is struggling to find enough masks or face coverings for county workers under the latest rules. He said it can mean many workers in a county office are required to wear masks if they deal with the public, but he will find a supply.

"I believe that we will have enough in the very near future, as far as cloth masks, too. We have enough disposable surgical masks. There will be no interruption of business. That I can assure you of," Updegrove said.

Updegrove said the county has provided first responders, hospitals and nursing homes with 30,000 N95 masks, 95,000 surgical masks and 10,000 face shields. He said the masks came from the National Stockpile, federal dollars and plans for later FEMA reimbursement.

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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