Rep. Tom Reed, who represents the Greater Olean area, on Tuesday said colleges and universities should act individually based on the needs of their students when making decisions related to the Coronavirus.
“They know their populations best,” Reed said during a media call with reporters. “One of the things I’m concerned about is that some students may be in need of housing here. You don’t want to send a student home into a hot zone.”
St. Bonaventure University is allowing students to remain on campus while offering all courses online through March 27. Jamestown Community College, which has a campus in Olean but no student housing, also is moving classes online.
Reed said the tone he has heard from local health professionals regarding the Coronavirus outbreak has been positive, that they have told him they feel they have the infrastructure and capacity to deal with the situation.
The congressman stressed the importance of giving flexibility to local public health officials and law enforcement, instead of imposing blanket policies that cover the entire state.
“Given the nature of the differences across the state, we don’t want to create a hysteric type of response,” he said. “If people run to our hospitals when we don’t have the same type of exposure here, it takes up our health care capacity to deal with existing situations.”
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in cooperation with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, has discouraged public gatherings and many public businesses from staying open. Reed said such restrictions are not appropriate for the entire state.
“I appreciate that (Cuomo) is raising the seriousness of the situation, but I would encourage him to realize that many of the decisions he is making is because of his experience in “hot zones,' ” Reed said. “However, those same circumstances don’t exist in other parts of the state.
Reed said he believes that the virus’ outbreak will be a short-term situation and that the nation will have a much better understanding of it in two weeks when more data is available.
“Remain calm and take a deep breath,” he said. “We are going to get through this together. Neighbors are coming to the aid of each other, and I have faith in the American people who are going to lead us through this.”
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