For two months, we have endured a lockdown unlike anything in recent history – eight weeks of the NY PAUSE effort that has required extensive work-from-home and business shutdowns to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. While New York City, Long Island, and much of the suburbs of New York City have seen significant outbreaks, the heart of New York – Upstate – has seen far fewer.
So, it’s welcome news that today, five regions in Upstate New York have met the CDC and New York State guidelines, based on accumulated metrics and are reopening. Upstate Jobs called for a regional approach for reopening, knowing that the strength of our communities, our leaders, and our people would allow for a safe and robust reopening when the data showed it possible. Today, the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Central New York, all are reopening with clear plans and support for businesses to do so in safe and practical manner. At this time, we have learned that there may be a large Public Zoom Meeting on reopening featuring County Leaders from many of those regions on May 21 – more to come on that.
We have long extolled the virtues of our incredible innovators and entrepreneurs in Upstate New York. Those leaders and businesses have been at the forefront of discovery for generations, whether we think of IBM, GE, and others as the foundation, or today’s successes such as Assured Information Security, SpinCar, or others. In the face of this crisis, the minds of Upstate sprang into action, including:
- Research teams in Rochester are investigating a new coronavirus vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech;
- Researchers at the University of Buffalo are working on a new 3D printing approach to producing N95-like respirators;
- And in Albany, experts at FluroTest are developing a COVID-19 rapid testing device that would deliver results in 15 minutes!
Everywhere you look in Upstate New York, we have the innovation economy looking around corners to find new ways to fight the spread of this pandemic and prevent future health crises. That’s one of the many reasons we at Upstate Jobs have long advocated for a new approach to economic development that focuses on the Innovation Economy and all the opportunities that can be realized by supporting entrepreneurs in investing in our communities.
These results are also a good reason to avoid putting Upstate into the same box as New York City, restricting our ability to work, innovate, and succeed. We need our innovators, our researchers, and our students to be learning, discovering, and achieving to continue to realize our success. This regional reopening gives us hope that New York won’t make rash, premature decisions, like the one just made in California – where the State University there has already announced they won’t reopen campuses for the Fall Semester. That’s a premature government overreach and an unnecessary leap to make at this time.
We know that in Upstate New York, we make decisions based on facts and data – and we want our leadership to continue doing so, to allow us to succeed.