After a large, peaceful vigil to commemorate the most recent life lost to gun violence, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren urged people who think they have a dispute to settle to step back and be mindful of the people they love.
“It is up to each and every one of us to make a decision, a choice,” Warren said April 13 during an online news conference. “Because we all get the same choice. Whether we want to save lives and protect our circle or we want to hurt our circle. Pulling the trigger is hurting your circle. Going out and not practicing social distancing is hurting your circle.”
In a separate online news conference, County Executive Adam Bello echoed the need for social distancing. He said law enforcement would begin citing nonessential businesses that are open and would be warning individuals who are in groups where they are not at least six feet from others. By order of the governor, violators can be fined $1,000.
Bello urged residents call 911 when they see people gathering. He said the 911 center is going to begin tracking hot spots so that law enforcement can be deployed to educate people on the need to stay apart. The county also is planning more public service announcements on its “Six Feet Saves” campaign.
For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Monroe County Department of Public Health did not report a COVID-19 death. As of 4 p.m. April 13, a total of 50 people have died in the county. There were 23 newly confirmed cases, the fifth straight day the number of new cases has declined. The county has 791 confirmed cases.
Among the cases is an inmate at the Monroe County Jail.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office announced that on April 12, an inmate tested positive for COVID-19. The individual had been arrested by the Rochester Police Department on April 7 and did not disclose that prior to his arrest on a weapons charge, he had been in close contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19.
As part of MCSO’s COVID-19 protocols, all individuals entering the jail are housed for 14-day quarantine in an area with individual cells that have solid doors. The inmates housed in the reception area also wear protective masks when outside the cell. The inmate now is in the COVID confinement area at the Brighton facility.
Warren said that while the pandemic is unprecedented, the community is all too familiar with gun violence. She said both are putting put people at risk at a time when health care resources are stretched.
“These are trying times for all of us,” she said.
One person was killed and two wounded April 12 in the Clifford Avenue shooting. The mayor said that over the past month, Rochester Police have taken 26 guns off the street and arrested 28 people on weapons charges. Six people have been arrested for assault shooting.
“The fact of the matter is that when you go to the hospital from a gunshot wound, you’re taking away a doctor, nurses, other people from dealing with the coronavirus,” she said. “They’re pulled away to try to save their person when it didn’t have to happen this way. I’m asking this community to think twice. We are all feeling the pressure. But we can make different choices. We can be better. We are better than what we have seen this past weekend.”
A week earlier, after data showed that Blacks and Latinos were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Warren implored members of minority communities to practice social distancing to reduce the risk to themselves and others of contracting the illness.
Warren repeated that message in the light of the vigil that occurred after the shooting. While the governor’s executive order limits gatherings to no more than 10 people, Warren said allowing the vigil to continue was safer than to interrupt the peaceful gathering because they knew people would gather at some point and the event was peaceful.
“Everyone mourned, and they went home safely,” she said.