March 29, 2021
The New York Post did a big interview with Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler over the weekend. Wheeler is shocked at reports that the governor got covid tests for his own family last year, because Wheeler says that in March 2020, the NYS Department of Health was ignoring/refusing covid tests to Elderwood in North Hornell and to the Fred And Harriet Taylor Center in Bath. Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith is quoted in the NY Post story as saying that she was working to be able to get tests for the Fred and Harriet Taylor Center, while Wheeler was working to get Covid tests for Elderwood, but Smith was told that Albany was going to make these decisions. Smith said “at that point” she knew she was not going to get the tests.
In response to the allegations, the NYSDOH is accusing Wheeler of “revisionist history” and the state health department pointed the finger at the Trump Administration for New York State not getting enough tests in March of last year.
Mayor John Buckley tells WLEA News that he was on numerous conference calls where he heard the New York State Health Department refusing requests from wheeler and Darlene smith when the two asked the NYSDOH for Covid tests for Steuben County nursing homes. “County Manager Jack Wheeler is 100 percent correct,” Buckley said. “I was involved with many of the phone conferences with Jack Wheeler, Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, Department of Health officials, even officials from the governors office. Jack Wheeler and Darlene Smith worked tirelessly to get those tests to Hornells and all area nursing homes, and they were thwarted time and time again,” Buckley stated.