OSWEGO COUNTY—  Across New York State, there have been a total of 1,374,480 reported COVID-19 cases to date. The virus’s impact has been monumental for individual counties, but The Palladium-Times was left to ponder how Oswego County fares compared to similarly sized counties.

Looking at similarly sized counties to Oswego, such as Chautauqua and Jefferson counties may provide some valuable insight about the county’s success in fighting COVID-19. data reported from county health departments throughout the state show Oswego County has more active cases and fewer vaccinations than other counties that are similarly sized.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oswego County has an estimated 117,124 residents while Chautauqua and Jefferson counties have 126,903 and 109,834, respectively. Among those residents there have been 5,596 positive cases in Oswego County, compared to 4,349 cases in Jefferson County and 6,500 cases in Chautauqua health officials as of Jan. 28.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said data is an important tool in health officials’ decision-making process, and data is used to inform county residents on the state of the pandemic and garner support for participating in preventative measures. Huang said, however, context is important and raw numbers do not always provide the most accurate picture.

“When we look at the population, it is not just the number of the population we need to look at,”

Huang said, adding to fully understand the data, several other factors need to be looked at as well, such as age and population density.

Taking a deeper look at the makeup of the populations, Chautauqua County has 20 percent of residents aged 65 and older, Oswego County has nearly 17 percent and Jefferson has almost 14 percent, according to the Census Bureau,

Cases per capita can help determine the depth of the spread of COVID-19 within a community. For example, Oswego has roughly 4,777 cases per 100,000 people, Jefferson has 3,559 cases per 100,000 and Chautauqua has 5,122 per 100,000.

Since Jan. 25, Oswego County reported the only weekly decrease in active cases. Local health officials said the amount of active cases decreased by nearly 50, while Jefferson and Chautauqua counties increased by 50 and four, respectively, over the same time period.  

Despite the decrease in cases, Oswego County still has more active cases than the counties most closely aligned by population. The county health departments reported 525 active cases in Oswego, while Jefferson has 487 active cases and Chautauqua 410 as of Jan. 29.

According to Huang, measuring counties by active cases is “too loose” of a definition, however, as the definition can vary from county to county. 

Compared to other counties, the Oswego’s reported deaths show that the 82 reported deaths are more than Jefferson (50) and less than Chautauqua (103).

However, the total amount of vaccinations from counties throughout the state have shown that Oswego has not vaccinated as many residents as similarly sized counties.

According to county officials, there have been 4,111 vaccinations administered in the county by Oswego Health and the Oswego County Health Department as of Jan. 28. Local pharmacies have also administered vaccines in Oswego County, and that total does not include those vaccination.

Other counties have reported almost twice as many vaccines, with Jefferson County reporting 8,198 vaccinations and Chautauqua County reporting 8,895 first and second doses to their residents as of Wednesday. It is unclear if those totals include vaccines adminstered at local pharmacies.

The Jefferson County Health Department told The Palladium-Times that only 500 have come from their health department. In Oswego, Huang said that the county health department was responsible for administering more than 1,700 doses of the vaccine since early January.

However, local health officials are excited the vaccine is being distributed to the community, even as supplies remain low. 

“With the vaccine slowly being distributed throughout the state, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is still critical that everyone continues to do their part to be healthy and safe,” said Oswego Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Duane Tull.

In the coming weeks, Huang said that the county health department would continue to monitor the diseases’ activities and promote information about the vaccine as much as they can. Meanwhile, he urges residents to practice preventative measures to slow the viruses’ spread

He recommends that residents do this by utilizing face masks as much as possible, practicing social distancing and washing their hands effectively.

To learn more about vaccinations in the county, or to receive updates on the Pandemic response here in the county, visit the Oswego County Health Department online at https://health.oswegocounty.com/.

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