SALAMANCA — Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. has responded to the Executive Order outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo for taking vital resources and medical equipment away from upstate New York hospitals for use downstate with opposition.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus has swept across New York like a tidal wave, impacting every county and every community,” Armstrong said in a release from the Seneca Nation. “While the downstate area is the epicenter of this unprecedented crisis, the number of cases and fatalities here in Western New York continue to climb.”

Armstrong said local healthcare workers, who he says are the true heroes on the front lines of this battle, need every resource possible to treat those who are in their care and to prepare for a continued increase.

Cuomo’s order flies in the face of the life-saving work our hospitals, doctors, nurses and first responders are risking their own health to perform every day, he said.

“By preparing to send the National Guard to the region to demand our healthcare community relinquish ventilators and equipment, the Governor is signaling his willingness to sacrifice the lives and safety of our family and neighbors,” Armstrong continued. “He is creating a dangerous ‘us’ versus ‘them’ dynamic, and he is making his choice crystal clear.”

From the days the virus began to terrorize the country and community, Armstrong said they have heard — from health professionals and from the Cuomo himself — how the virus is especially dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, which is prevalent among the Seneca Nation and other native communities within New York.

“The Governor’s order is a reckless attack on the safety of our communities,” he said. “The lives of our citizens, whether Native or non-Native, should not be deemed more expendable simply because we live north of Westchester County.”

Armstrong continued saying Cuomo was elected to serve all of New York, not to unilaterally decide that lives in one area of the state are more valuable than the rest of the state.

“The Seneca Nation and the Seneca Nation Council stand in solidarity with our region’s healthcare workers and the many elected officials who represent our region and communities in opposing the Governor’s dangerous, short-sighted and selective order,” he added.