In the August 22nd edition of the Observer, Chautauqua County Public Health Director Christina Schuyler vented her frustration with the State of New York’s COVID-19 health directives as they relate to gym & health center inspections, and the need to prepare for both COVID-19 and influenza testing this fall. If interim appointed County Executive PJ Wendel had provided real leadership, Christina Schuyler’s frustrations with state COVID-19 directives would not have boiled over.

Chautauqua County Executive Candidate Rich Morrisroe (D, WF) sympathizes with County Public Health Director Schuyler’s frustrations to a degree. The main culprit, however, is the novel coronavirus, not the State of New York. New York’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the best in the country. It has been a marathon for all local governments and school districts, and a constant exercise in adjustment and reaction to Executive Orders and State guidelines. County public health departments are at the forefront of the struggle as the virus has proven exceedingly difficult to contain.

“I can only imagine she is exhausted,” said. Morrisroe. “But a true county executive would have addressed her concerns and lifted her spirits. He would have helped her find a way to handle the new directives. Stephen M.R. Covey reminds us that ‘the first job of a leader is to inspire trust.’ Had she trusted Mr. Wendel to help her through this next phase of managing the pandemic, she would not have gone to the press with complaints.”

Morrisroe, continued: “Governments are in the constituent service business. We exist to serve our constituent residents and taxpayers, including families, seniors, property owners and business owners. The County Public Health Department is key to this community’s ability to manage the pandemic. That is the key service Chautauqua County must continue to provide, or all bets are off, and shutdowns will follow.”

“Thus,” Morrisroe reasoned, “if the Public Health Department needs additional resources and staff to inspect gyms and health centers, then an ingenious, or resourceful county executive, finds a way to shift resources from other areas and departments. Then, he or she works with the department heads, union leaders, the legislature and direct service providers to make it happen.”

“It is my understanding that the Health and Human Services Department is top heavy with administrators. Perhaps those positions can be temporarily reassigned to help handle site inspections.”

“Lastly,” stated Morrisroe, “a real leader cannot passively await guidance from the state or other elected officials. A real leader makes tough decisions daily while advocating zealously with state and federal officials for help. He is not afraid to try something new to achieve the state’s goal—to keep our people safe. Had Wendel provided that leadership, instead of the Public Health Director leading him, Ms. Schuyler would not be lamenting about the need to inspect gyms and health centers to the news media.”

1 Comment

  • by Debora Swanson
    Posted August 24, 2020 5:28 pm

    As the owner of a small fitness center I have to say the county health department has been working with me every step of the way through this crisis. I’ve spoken with Jessica W. almost weekly and she has kept me informed. I sympathize with the frustration they feel and while I am desperate to reopen I understand and support the need to do so safely.

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