Upstate CEOs pledge to fight COVID-19

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Upstate Venture Connect, an entrepreneur-led nonprofit building a regionwide startup community across Upstate New York, has formed a coalition of CEOs from emerging technology companies to navigate these uncertain times together.

By the minute, champions of the local business community are committing to fight COVID-19 in their workplaces, and to support other community initiatives.

A copy of the pledge, seen below, can be signed here.

Dozens of company chiefs from across Upstate New York have already signed the pledge since the effort was launched yesterday. Rochester business leaders who signed the pledge include Patrick Bosek, CEO of Jorsek Inc.; Victoria Van Voorhis, CEO of Second Avenue Learning; Ralph Dandrea, CEO of ITX Corp.; Justin Copie, CEO of Innovative Solutions, and Aaron Newman, founder of BlocWatch.  

The goal of the pledge is to keep those driving our regional economy informed during the crisis and insist that company executives adopt minimum standards as outlined in the pledge.  Those minimum standards include reducing unnecessary travel, encouraging working from home, and asking employees and partners to practice social distancing and other critical precautions.

“With technology moving faster than people, high-growth businesses in Upstate NY can rise above this massive outbreak,” said Martin Babinec, founder and chairman of Upstate Venture Connect. “Our joining together to advocate these important measures can be influential in getting other leaders across the region to do the same.” 

UVC has activated a LISTSERV for upstate CEOs to help them share resources and best practices for surviving an economic downturn. It aims to connect people facing difficult decisions around safety and well-being at work, home and in their communities. 

Pledge of action against COVID-19

For Upstate New York founders and CEOs

We, the leaders of technology companies with headquarters or offices in Upstate New York, are stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here in our communities and beyond by taking the following decisive actions in the interest of protecting the most vulnerable members of our community:

  • First, we are strongly encouraging the majority of our workers to work from home as soon as possible, leaving behind the minimum possible in-office presence.
  • Second, we are restricting work travel by our employees, both domestically and internationally. We are also strongly advising our employees to be thoughtful about all personal travel, particularly where they would be congregating in larger groups.
  • Third, we are moving all clients, visitors, and interviews to remote only meetings and not currently welcoming onsite visitors.
  • Fourth, wherever possible we are strongly encouraging our vendors, service providers and partner businesses to take similar precautions.
  • Fifth, we are each consulting with our teams to find ways of supporting our local health care workers by helping to purchase critical medical resources, such as additional tests and protective equipment, and supporting the work of local nonprofit organizations that are helping at-risk communities who will be severely impacted by this pandemic.
  • Finally​, we are calling on the community to support the government’s effort in restricting public gatherings and other nonessential activity as well as following guidance on keeping social distance and stepped up measures for sanitizing personal hygiene and contact surfaces.

Why are we taking these unprecedented steps?

The spread of COVID-19 is past the point of containment. Without swift action, we may soon witness the failure of our health care system’s capacity to deal with the virus’s complications. Our health care system is not built to handle enormous loads of critically ill people all at once. Therefore, we urgently need to flatten the curve of disease transmission to prevent unnecessary deaths. There are not enough health care providers to care for all the sick, nor enough full ventilators. We are already seeing this play out with tragic consequences in Italy, where the mortality rate is shockingly high, as their health care system has struggled to keep pace with the sudden crushing load of hospitalized patients, leading to otherwise preventable deaths.

These actions alone will not be enough, and we cannot wait for our government agencies and elected officials to mandate these restrictions. Every hour counts. We therefore call on others across upstate — and in other communities across the country — to follow our lead and implement these procedures, effective immediately.

Alex Zapesochny is Rochester Beacon publisher.

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