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Congressmember & Gubernatorial Candidate Lee Zeldin Attacks Governor Hochul's COVID Response

Rep. Lee Zeldin, GOP Candidate for Governor, took to Zoom to call on the Hochul administration to stop mandating vaccines and restricting employees, and put more resources into expanded COVID testing.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, GOP Candidate for Governor, took to Zoom to call on the Hochul administration to stop mandating vaccines and restricting employees, and put more resources into expanded COVID testing.

Congressmember Lee Zeldin continued his attack Thursday on Governor Kathy Hochul and her approach to handling the latest surge in COVID 19 cases. Zeldin is the only Republican running for Governor at this time and could face-off against Hochul come November. He believes the current state approach has focused too much on restrictions and vaccine policy and not enough on getting ahead of the newest virus variant.

“To be caught this off-guard when it was this avoidable is greatly concerning for those who are in charge, who have been focused on firings, fines, threats, mandates, they have really focused (on) that approach.”

Zeldin believes more attention should be placed on widespread testing. And he says he’s hearing people around the state with frustrations when they try to find a COVID test.

“For example, in Central New York testing available four days a week for six hours, but in the Finger Lakes six days a week for nine hours (a day).  If I was the Governor, I would be calling for uniform testing hours all across the state which will help New Yorkers know exactly what they’re getting.”

Zeldin would also like to see more testing offered to health care workers who had to leave jobs over not complying with vaccine mandates, so they could further assist in the crisis.

Zeldin offers list of ways to increase COVID testing:

  • Expanding testing at public transportation hubs across the state, not just New York City.
  • Standardizing hours of operations for all New York State-run testing sites across the state;
  • Expanding hours of operation at state-run testing sites; 
  • Using funds from New York State’s $4 billion budget surplus to purchase more tests for distribution to New Yorkers; 
  • Entering into contracts with more than just one test supplier;
  • Opening additional state-run testing sites;
  • Allowing unvaccinated healthcare workers to assist with administering tests, especially considering the availability of enhanced PPE and the option of testing the worker prior to the start of the shift; 
  • Calling on the federal government to reverse the diversion of testing funds that was directed earlier this year to unrelated purposes;
  • Expanding testing at public transportation hubs.

He’s been criticizing Hochul in tours across the state as part of his gubernatorial campaign. He’s now tying another of his key issues, opposition to benefits for undocumented immigrants, to his concerns over COVID testing.

“Overall New York is estimated to have a budget surplus of over $4 Billion this year.  Instead of spending hard-earned tax dollars on, for example, multiple billion dollars on people who aren’t even legally in the country, we should be pouring money into acquiring and distributing the tests,” said Zeldin Thursday.

Meanwhile, Hochul announced distribution of millions of home covid tests and medical-grade masks statewide. Syracuse and surrounding areas started handing them out this week. She’s also recommended that people keep themselves and each other safe through vaccinations, boosters, and wearing masks around others.

The state announced Thursday there had been more than 74,000 new COVID cases over the previous 24 hours.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.