County hits 700 COVID cases since March

Oswego County Chairman James Weatherup addresses the public in Tuesday's video update.

OSWEGO, N.Y. — COVID-19 cases in Oswego County continue to rise steadily, topping 700 in total on Tuesday as the number of statewide cases recorded in recent weeks have been higher than any point since early June.

The Oswego County Health Department reported Tuesday a total of 703 cases of the coronavirus in the county since testing started in mid-March, as statewide the number of cases has now grown to more than 475,000. County health officials reported 40 active positive cases of the virus in Oswego County, with nearly 200 additional individuals in mandatory isolation or quarantine.

Daily testing has increased steadily across the state since mid- to late March, and the number of positive daily cases had been steadily declining since early May, according to state data. Positive cases, however, have increased slightly across the state in recent weeks, and in late September topped more than 1,000 per day for the first time since early June.

COVID-19 cases in New York topped 1,000 per day on 13 of the last 14 days prior to October 12, registering more than 1,800 cases on Oct. 7.

Spread of the coronavirus in Oswego County has slowed in recent weeks following a mid-September outbreak among SUNY Oswego students, and that outbreak appears to be under control with the college reporting just six active cases earlier this week

The 40 active positive cases in Oswego County is a significant reduction from the high of 140 active positive cases recorded in mid-September, but cases are still emerging far more quickly than the earliest days of the pandemic, and health officials say the cases have largely been among adults in the community.

“We’ve seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among adults across the county, many of which are not related to school or college activities,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang in a statement Tuesday. “It is very important that everyone — not just students — maintain preventive practices.”

Though the recent increase in Oswego County cases is not comparable to the drastic rise in cases throughout September, Huang noted the viral activity has been higher than in the summer months preceding the return of college students and K-12 students to instruction. Huang told The Palladium-Times the recent uptick is “not just because of school activity,” and mirrors the larger statewide trend of increased cases, but noted overall New York is “doing much better than many other states.”

The 703 total cases reported by the county Health Department on Tuesday comes just over two weeks after the county topped 600 cases.

The 100-case increase over a two-week span is slower than the rate of increase throughout the month of September when cases increased from 300 to 600 between Sept. 2 and Sept. 28, with the jump from 400 to 500 cases taking place over the span of just five days.

The rate of increase over the past two weeks, however, is far greater than earlier this year, when the county did not reach its first 100 cases until May 27, more than two months after testing started, and 200 cases a little more than a month later on June 30.

Coronavirus cases have come from a variety of places across the county, Huang said, adding there’s no specific community or area in which a large number of the recent cases have been identified.

“It’s not specifically coming from any one place,” he said. “We saw increased activity throughout the county, mostly in the adult population.”

Huang said health officials are closely monitoring school-aged children, and lauded the limited but tough team of county Health Department nurses and staff for their contact tracing efforts and other activity aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

“We have a small team, but this team is very diligent and quickly reaches out,” Huang said, adding many of the county’s nurses have been working seven days a week to conduct contact tracing for new cases and check in with individuals in isolation or quarantine.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, Huang noted influenza season is starting and county health officials have already started to monitor flu activity. Huang, however, noted there has not yet been a confirmed case of influenza in the county. He said preventative measures against the coronavirus, such as hand-washing, face-masking and social distancing, are also effective to prevent influenza and other illnesses.

Health officials urge residents to take these precautions:

• Wear a face mask or covering over your nose and mouth.

• Keep six feet from other people.

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home if you are sick unless you are seeking health care.

• Call your healthcare provider from home if you are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath.

• Call 911 if you are experiencing life-threatening conditions.

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