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County sees steady decline of new coronavirus cases

Isabel Braverman - Staff Writer
Posted 7/2/20

SULLIVAN - Sullivan County Public Health officials have confirmed that new positive cases of coronavirus have been going down since the beginning of May.

As of press time yesterday, there were 9 …

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County sees steady decline of new coronavirus cases

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SULLIVAN - Sullivan County Public Health officials have confirmed that new positive cases of coronavirus have been going down since the beginning of May.

As of press time yesterday, there were 9 cases and 0 people hospitalized with the virus.

But Public Health Director Nancy McGraw wants to remind people that just because the numbers are low does not mean the virus has gone away. Everyone should continue to wear face masks in public and keep socially distanced.

“We are in good shape,” McGraw said. “I want to reinforce the critical importance as we re-open and we get our summer influx of tourists and visitors and camps that everybody continue to use social distancing and wearing face masks in public; it does prevent the transmission of the virus. Somebody can be asymptomatic and transmit the virus; that science continues to be true.”

These measures are what led the county to this point since the pandemic began in early March. The county saw a spike of cases in mid-March and April, reaching a high point of 516 active cases.

But since the beginning of May, active cases are steadily declining.

“People have been very cooperative and very concerned about not wanting to spread this to others, and being responsible and following our guidance,” McGraw stated. “I would say that's primarily the biggest factor.”

McGraw and her team have been continuing to monitor people in quarantine. These are people who have been directly exposed to someone who tested positive, which McGraw says is reaching 5,000.

Contact tracing has been seen as a major step in allowing states to re-open, and Public Health follows up on those people and makes phone calls to them on a daily basis.

“Our low COVID-19 figures are a powerful testament to the tireless efforts of our Public Health team and their partners to spread evidence-based info about this contagious disease - and the fact that our community, by and large, listened to them,” remarked County Manager Josh Potosek. “I thank everyone for realizing we are truly in this together, and we'll get out of this together. As we keep repeating, wear masks, social distance and follow the guidelines released by us, the state and the CDC.”

While Sullivan County is seeing low numbers, that may not be the case for the rest of the country. Since the pandemic began in the United States, there have been 2.69 million confirmed cases and more than 127,000 reported deaths, according to data from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some states that re-opened earlier this year, such as Florida and Arizona, are seeing resurgence in new cases. New York City became the epicenter of the virus outbreak, and the entire state has taken a four-phase approach to re-opening.

“We've never dealt with a pandemic like this before,” McGraw said. “So in the beginning we had no idea what we were facing, and how severe it could be. Now that we're seeing our interventions have been successful we want to continue on that trend.”

As the summer gets underway in the county, more and more tourists and visitors flock to the area. Gov. Andrew Cuomo initiated a 14-day quarantine order for people traveling to New York from states with high infection rates.

On Sunday it was announced that New York State saw the lowest death toll and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There were five deaths and 869 hospitalizations reported.

"As states across the country struggle with new outbreaks related to reopening, New York's numbers continue to go down to record lows," Gov. Cuomo said. "Our progress is a direct result of New Yorkers' discipline and hard work and an incremental, data-driven reopening.”

Sullivan County is currently in Phase 3 and is expected to enter Phase 4 this Tuesday. Restaurants have been able to open both outdoor and indoor seating, and businesses like hair and nail salons can open.

“I hope to see people being patient and kind to each other and not confrontational if they're upset by seeing people not wearing masks in public,” McGraw said. “Businesses need to reinforce their policies, they have the right not to allow people to come in if they're not wearing a face mask; it's actually required by executive order.”

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