By Joshua Maloni
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly organized a conference call Thursday morning with Lewiston Police Department Chief Frank Previte, Lewiston Fire Co. No. 1 Chief Les Myers, Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick, Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch, chamber staff and board members.
“I just thought it was a good idea for all of us to converse and say what our plans are, and how we can help,” she said. “The chamber is here to help. We are here as a resource.”
Previte said, “Basically, all our services have remained the same. The only thing that we are doing is, especially because of the size of the department, I’m concerned about exposure for the officers, so that we don’t deplete our officers and have that be an issue. So, I’m limiting contact. Since Sunday, we’ve limited access to the building. And we are not having any of the public come into the building to file complaints. I am not sending officers to homes to take complaints, as usually would be the case.
“Those, of course, are for non-emergency calls. Any emergency calls or needs for service, everything remains the same. The officers do have protective masks that have been supplied by the state, again, through the county resources. However, it’s a one-time use and I’m not sure about the replenishment of that. So, once they use it, I might be in another situation. Masks are something that I’m sure everybody’s concerned about, but that’s one of the needs that we have at this point, as far as replenishing.
“Any complaints that we’re taking that are non-emergency are going to be handled over the phone. We have officers handling that over the phone.
“And what we also are doing is suspending the medical drop-off, as well, at the department. We are going to make an exception – and we put it out on social media already – that if there’s any emergencies, or if you guys are aware of anything where it’s dangerous, we will arrange to go to the house, pick up that, if there’s a special circumstance.”
Previte noted, “We’ve also instituted … the officers self-screening. … I’ve got a guideline from CDC as far as what to check for. The officers come in, screen themselves, take their temperature, answer a brief questionnaire every day of whether they’ve had contact with (someone symptomatic) or not. We’re doing as best as we can to do that, to try to limit the exposure that the officers have, or identify if somebody has been exposed, as well.”
He emphasized, “Enforcementwise, we’ve had some people believe that they can disregard vehicle traffic laws because we won’t be enforcing the law. That is not the case.”
Broderick said, “I think, as everybody already knows, all town buildings are closed to the public. The Senior Center was the first to close and then we closed all the rest of the buildings yesterday morning.
“If you have a situation that needed to be addressed, all town offices are manned, as they have at least one person in them. Building inspector, clerk’s office, Water Department will all have somebody; the assessor’s office. So, if there was a situation where you needed some paperwork or documentation – we’re obviously not going to issue dog licenses or things like that – but if you needed a death certificate, a birth certificate, there was an emergency situation, you had to have it, we will provide that.
“(Town Clerk/Tax Receiver) Donna (Garfinkel) is there. There’s clerks there all the time that are able to do that. But there’ll be no entrance into the building.”
He added, “I just ask everybody to be vigilant. I was at Tops this morning: They had products – not everything, but they had enough. Tops is doing a good job.
“Just everybody stay vigilant.”
Myers said, “The fire company is responding to these types of incidents. We will talk to a patient, if there’s any suspected information. Dispatch is asking the right questions and giving us that information on whether they’ve been out of the area or had any contact with people. We have a protocol that we posted, both at the hall and disseminated to all the members, so, we’re in good shape.
“We’re asking patients that could be suspect to meet us outside, instead of (personnel) having to go inside.”
Myers said the Red Cross will hold a blood drive at the firehall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.
“They are asking for people, because they have a definite need,” Myers said.
On the Red Cross website, it states, “Donating is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood or platelets. We have implemented additional precautions to ensure safety of our donors and staff.”
Pauly told Welch, “Our businesses are asking if they can put out banners, if they could put out cones on the side of the road for drive-thru, curbside pickup. … Right now, our businesses are hurting, and trying to get every ounce of business they possibly can.”
Welch was having technical difficulties and couldn’t respond. On Thursday afternoon, she said, “The Village Board is relaxing the sign regulations to allow additional signage. I talked to the restaurants and businesses and told them they could use sandwich board signs, and DPW is dropping off cones for pickup parking. People can order and pickup lunch/dinners from restaurants, and continue to shop local.
“They need our help and support. These restaurants and businesses are the ones that donate to everyone else’s charities/events, etc., and it is our turn to help them.
“These businesses have been cleaned and sanitized and they have taken every precaution to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Hopefully this virus will end soon.”
Pauly was scheduled to hold a similar session Friday morning with elected leaders and first responders from Youngstown, Porter and Ransomville.