As Erie County fights the COVI19 crisis, it is also looking forward to getting the economy cranked up again and people back to work.
The numbers of deaths, hospitalizations and those recovered are still adding up. Personal protective equipment is still arriving to keep health care workers safe. However, the county is also working with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and an array of other local governments and business groups on a massive survey about what the local economy needs for a kickstarting once the virus subsides.
Partnership President and CEO Dottie Gallagher said 12,000 electronic surveys have gone out to businesses across Western New York. They ask for information and suggestions about what to do.
"The path back to work and to reopening our community is going to be one we invent as we go and this will be a really great set of data for us to do that," Gallagher said. "So, as the county executive said, we want to know what businesses are going through now and what they're going to be going through in the future."
The deadline for filling out the forms and returning them is April 24. The results will be released May 6.
"The more businesses that take this survey the more detailed information we're going to have," Gallagher said. "For example, we know right now from some of our small and microbusinesses that are having a very difficult time accessing the SBA loans because they don't have a commercial banking relationship. We know that manufacturers right now are having a very challenging time, essential workforce creating a safe work environment for their workers."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said a sign things are turning around is the rising number of COVID tests.
"We've had a dramatic uptick in testing in the last week and we are a little less than 7,000 as of yesterday. I would imagine when we finish the day today, we will be easily over 7,000 just because I know we have over 100 that are being tested at the Erie County Public Health Lab and a couple hundred, at least, through Kaleida and more from some of the other ones," he said.
A key issue in government lifting the national quarantine is how many people to test and how to do that to see how many people have recovered and how many are asymptomatic and have to be kept confined to protect others to get things started.
Businesses can share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic by clicking here.