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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Top Stories > Health

COVID numbers up; officials urge caution for holidays

Nov 19, 2020

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

By: IsABEL BRAVERMAN | DEMOCRAT
Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw said increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases is indicative of community-wide transmission.
REGION — The number of cases of coronavirus are continuing to climb across the region and New York State.
According to Sullivan County Public Health Services, there are currently 118 active cases of coronavirus and 488 people quarantined/isolated as of Wednesday.
The Disease Control (Epidemiology) team at Sullivan County Public Health Services is urging local residents who have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 to quarantine for the recommended 14 days.
The renewed urgency comes as cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus have spiked sharply both locally and statewide.
At the start of this week, 25 new positive cases were reported, up from 100 active cases on Friday, November 13, and a significant increase from 35 active cases just over a month ago.
“This is indicative of an increase in communitywide transmission,” said Nancy McGraw, Public Health Director.
“The best tools we have to contain additional outbreaks is prevention: consistent mask wearing, hand-washing or hand sanitizer use, limiting time in groups, and that people understand the importance of quarantine and isolation.”
With the holidays coming up, there is an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to limit the amount of people to ten at a private residence.
“It's really important to be very cautious, and not have large gatherings,” McGraw said. “The important message is that transmission is on the rise and we want to keep our friends and family members safe. You can still spread COVID and not be symptomatic and not know that you have it.”
Many health officials predicted a “second wave” going into the fall and winter seasons.
McGraw said they want to reinforce the message that social distancing isn't a replacement for wearing masks; people should do both especially with spending more time indoors.
“Because things have been open for a while and schools and businesses reopened and there's a lot of gatherings people are becoming more complacent about taking precautions,” she said. “So we're seeing a lot more exposures for every positive case.”

Cases at Gov't Center

Sullivan County Public Health Services announced in a press release on Wednesday evening that anyone who visited the Government Center lobby in Monticello and was in close proximity to the ballot-counting activity at the Board of Elections may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
The exposure may have occurred on Monday, Nov. 16 between 3 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. or Tuesday, Nov. 17 between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
“Through the case investigation process by our staff with the positive individual and the Board of Elections staff, it has been determined that only two individuals were identified as direct exposures, and they will be contacted to quarantine,” McGraw said in a press release. “It was also determined that all other visitors and staff did wear masks and were at least six feet or more apart, and the risk of exposures was limited. However, after consultation with the NYS Department of Health, it was advised that a Public Advisory be issued out of an abundance of caution,”
McGraw said the area would be sanitized and she anticipates the counting of ballots will resume on Thursday.

Vaccine plans submitted to the state

All counties in New York had to submit a COVID vaccine distribution plan to the state's health department on Monday.
McGraw told the Democrat on Wednesday that they are awaiting feedback from the state and they don't have a lot of details.
She said the state gave some general guidelines such as prioritizing certain populations, estimating the number of underserved and vulnerable residents, and addressing how to set up clinics.
“There's a lot of unanswered questions that we will be informed of once the state gets the answers from the federal government, in terms of how that's all going to roll out, there's a lot of logistical issues, in terms of supply…” she said.
She said they plan on partnering with the hospital and healthcare organizations across the county.
“Local health departments are responsible for making sure that all of the healthcare providers have access to the vaccine, and we work with them to ensure that the largest number of residents in the county can be vaccinated,” she said.
According to news reports nationally, two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced successful results from clinical trials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the goal of the federal government's Operation Warp Speed is to have a vaccine available before the end of 2020, with all adults being able to get vaccinated later in 2021.

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