PENN YAN — Democrat Tracy Mitrano took aim at U.S. Rep. Tom Reed’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak today, charging the incumbent with politicizing “a matter of life and death.”
Mitrano zeroed in on Reed’s criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 management.
“Stiff-arming the governor, who’s trying to use all the resources of state to address the outbreak, flies in the face of what any responsible official should do, and that is to forget the politics and work for the good of the people whom you represent,” she said.
Earlier this month Reed announced that he had struck a deal with Quest Diagnostics to deliver COVID-19 test kits to the Western New York, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier economic development regions, with plans to conduct an additional 3,000 tests per day.
But in an interview this week, Reed attacked Cuomo’s new guidelines for nursing homes, which now require twice-a-week testing for all staff.
“He said there aren’t enough tests, after saying he got additional tests from Quest,” Mitrano said.
“We have to test in nursing homes,” she added. “This virus thrives in dense, trapped populations: prisons, meat packing plants, nursing homes. It is significantly more fatal for the elderly — 20% versus 2% in the general population.”
Mitrano said addressing nursing homes has a decisive effect on statistics. Tioga County had the lowest infection rate in the 23rd Congressional District until COVID hit a nursing home, she said. Now there are 60 confirmed cases, 19 probable cases.
Reed’s home county, Steuben, has experienced the highest rate of deaths and contagion in his district, in large part because of nursing home cases, she pointed out.
“Reed aligns himself with the far right, who want to reopen, ignoring fact that Western New York is in a region with an abundance of cases and deaths due to nursing homes,” Mitrano said. “Fifty-five% of the deaths in Erie County were in nursing homes. If you fix nursing homes, which is what the governor is trying to do, you get the statistics that get you what you want, which is to reopen.”
Short of that, reopening too soon could put the district in far more trouble, Mitrano said.
“There are not enough resources in this district, were we to experience an outbreak in proportions like a place like New York City, that can take care of the people who live here, because healthcare in rural areas has been so dramatically neglected,” she said.