OSWEGO — More than 200 individuals in Oswego County have now tested positive for COVID-19 as the third full month of the pandemic comes to an end.

June brought Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the state's post-coronavirus re-opening in Central New York, and the return of hair salons, indoor dining services and other industries. The month also saw the highest monthly total of confirmed coronavirus cases and more tests for the virus than the previous three months combined.

The Oswego County Health Department Wednesday announced a total of 203 positive test results have been returned from Oswego County residents since testing began. June alone saw of 96 positive test results as more than 35 of those cases were linked to an outbreak at the Champlain Valley Specialty apple processing plant in Oswego Town.

State and county officials continue to urge residents to take the necessary precautions, practice social distancing and wear facemasks in public spaces.

“The data shows that COVID-19 is still in our community,” said Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup, R-Central Square.

“We must continue to take personal responsibility and help prevent the spread of the disease,” Weatherup added.

Cases have been reported in each of the 22 reporting areas in the county, which include the towns and cities but exclude smaller areas, such as villages.

There are currently 23 active cases confirmed in the county, according to the county Health Department.

Testing increased dramatically through the month of June, with more individuals tested this month than in March, April and May combined. Health officials conducted 9,104 tests in June to bring the countywide total to 15,894 since testing began in March.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said the increased testing was linked both to the requirement of nursing home employees to be tested regularly and hundreds of tests related to the Champlain Valley cluster. Huang noted officials tested each of the employees at the facility and known contacts, in addition to offering testing at housing complexes in connection with investigations into the cluster.  

“That's why you see so many tests,” Huang said of the June monthly total, noting testing availability has also “increased dramatically” since the start of the pandemic.

Testing related to the Champlain Valley cluster is completed, Huang said, but the tracking and monitoring of those cases continues. Increased testing is likely to continue in the near future, Huang said, but it may not exceed the June numbers.

Huang said the response of county and state health officials to the Champlain Valley cluster was largely successful.

“This cluster also really gave our health department a good opportunity to exercise our capacity,” he said. “Our nurses work very hard and have been very successful in stopping the viruses further spread,.”

Despite the health officials proactive response, Huang said that ultimately, diligent self protection is the best way to combat the virus.

“People have to protect themselves,” he said, pointing to frequent hand washing, social distancing and other measures.

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