Protesters: Saving lives is important, but so is the economy

DiPietro: This country has learned how to social distance

Mike Baggerman
May 22, 2020 - 2:00 am
Protesters at Niagara Square want New York to reopen entirely. May 21, 2020 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Protesters at Niagara Square want New York to reopen entirely. May 21, 2020 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Even though protesters continue to express their frustration over the state not opening quick enough, there remains ample questions about how the state can expedite the process to save the economy but also stop the spread of coronavirus.

“I think that the main focus needs to be on the most vulnerable, which is the elderly and the people with underlying conditions,” Gina Dibble, one of the protesters at Niagara Square on Thursday, said. “I have family members that have conditions that are at risks and they are taking the necessary precautions as well as we are when we visit them. To have a loved one die in a nursing home without their family being able to visit them? That is wrong on so many levels and I can’t comprehend that they’re even allowing that to happen.”

Most regions of New York State, including Western New York and the Finger Lakes, are in phase one of reopening. Data pending, many of the regions are eligible to begin phase two as early as May 29, though the Western New York region cannot begin phase two until the first week in June.

Other protesters, like Devon Rusinek of Buffalo, acknowledged that businesses should be allowed to open in a “safe, cautious, conscientious” manner.

“I believe a lot of this should come down to a data-driven approach,” Rusinek said. “In the beginning, a lot of the initial projections indicated that there would be a high mortality rate, somewhere in the range of two to ten percent. I’ve even seen projections of up to 25 percent in the early days. In the beginning it made a lot of sense for the measures that were taken to lock down a lot of the country in a sense.”

However, he said fewer people have died than projected, meaning that there should be rollbacks now.

He said the phased approach to reopening is a solution, but he wants to see some industries open sooner than their respective phase.

Much of Thursday’s protest involved questions about why the state closed small businesses and allowed box stores to remain open.

“Why can we have 8,000 to 10,000 people go into Wal-Mart every day, but the local bike shop which might see five or ten, is deemed a health risk to the community?” DiPietro said. “It doesn’t make sense because it isn’t sense. It’s become political and it’s all about power.”

DiPietro accused the governor of using his power to try and “extort” money from the federal government to fix budget issues that have hurt New York State.

The republican assemblyman said that Upstate New York should open up. When asked if opening up now would risk the lives of people, DiPietro called it a “big crock of boloney”.

“Right now, this country has learned how to social distance and it has learned how to beat back this flu virus,” DiPietro said. “I would say that with what we’ve got going on now, even the people saying ‘wait for the second wave’, I’m telling you right now there’s not going to be a second wave.”

DiPietro and other protesters will continue their push for the state to reopen entirely next week with a Tuesday demonstration in Hamburg at Old Time Baptist Church.

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