GUEST COLUMN: Working together to weather the storm

Modified: April 6, 2020 2:44pm

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I would like to open this month by thanking all of the healthcare workers; our nurses, our doctors, our Department of Health staff and epidemiologists on the ninth floor of the Rath Building. They are working many long hours and we could not get through this coronavirus crisis without their dedication to public health and safety. They embody the resolve which we have always relied on to triumph over crises of any kind.

In addition to the healthcare workers, your county government has been working round-the-clock to manage the response to the COVID-19 virus and deliver accurate and timely information so that you and your family can stay safe and healthy. It has never been more critical that the public stay informed and vigilant while being able to trust their leaders. Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and I will continue to keep you frequently updated with fact-based information about the coronavirus in our community and Erie County’s response to it.

While we update the public and the media regularly, there are other ways to access reliable information as well. We have developed several new COVID-19 resources that you can rely on to answer any questions you may have in this uncertain time:

• Our webpage is the best place to start with frequently asked questions, community resources, press releases and more.

• We have a COVID-19 helpline to answer your specific questions. The number is (716)858-2929. We ask you not to call us with hypothetical inquiries but we are here to help with answers to your other questions.

• We also have a county heat map at that we regularly update with data breakdowns for coronavirus cases in each municipality in Erie County.

Please remember that if you have any symptoms consistent with the coronavirus (fever, shortness of breath, dry cough) you should call your doctor. Continue to shelter in place and self-monitor until you receive further guidance from your personal healthcare provider.

Please do not spend too much time or energy consuming pandemic news and social media. It is important to stay informed, but take this unique time at home to relax or try something new. Get out and enjoy some of our 10,000 acres of parks and forestry while still following responsible physical distancing guidelines. Visit to find the parks near you. Try your hand at baking, or creating some art, or just enjoy reading a book. I have been playing my guitar and I find it really helps me unwind and connect with family, friends, and members of the public.

Once again, thank you to all the courageous healthcare workers, supermarket employees, local government employees, caregivers and everyone else who is working to ensure our community gets through this. And to those who are abiding by the professional medical advice to stay home and practice safe physical distancing so that we can stop the spread of this virus and save as many lives as possible, I thank you for your cooperation. Stay well everyone.