COVID-19 vaccine Oswego (copy)

Cases of COVID-19 in Oswego County have fallen in recent weeks, but the death toll continues to grow. Pictured above, Oswego’s Jessica Pingrin receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School, administered by volunteer nurse Marygrace Fronk (right). Also pictured is volunteer nurse Ellen Holst.

OSWEGO—The number of active COVID-19 cases steadily declined in the second half of October after an early fall surge, but the death toll since the start of September is the highest since cases hit record highs at the end of 2020 into the start of the current year.

The Oswego County Health Department reported 383 county residents tested positive for COVID-19 over the previous week, a slight uptick from the 372 reported in the week prior. The number of active cases reported this week fell to 403, a significant down turn from the more than 500 recorded for five-consecutive weeks, which included more than 650 cases at one point.

The 403 active cases continues to be high for a population the size of Oswego County, but it’s the lowest number of active cases recorded since late August.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang noted the number of new cases in the county has decreased compared to previous weeks, and the number of vaccinations continues to increase slowly. Huang said the COVID-19 virus is still active in Oswego County, putting those who are not vaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, at a higher risk of contracting the disease and developing severe cases.

“Many people think that those who previously contracted the virus now have a naturally acquired immunity against it,” Huang said in a statement. “However, a recent study reported that unvaccinated adults with a previous COVID-19 infection are five times more likely to be hospitalized due to the virus than those who are fully vaccinated.”

Roughly 55 percent of county residents are now fully vaccinated, according to the county, a number significantly lower than the nearly 67 percent of New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated. Young children are now eligible for vaccination following authorization of a lower-dose vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and officials are hopeful that authorization could lead to a significant boost in vaccinations.

“There are children in the second grade who have never experience a normal school year,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us change all that.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday called the authorization for child vaccinations “an important step in fighting this pandemic,” and encouraged parents to reach out to their health care providers to prepare to get their children vaccinated. Hochul said the state has been preparing for “a seamless rollout” of child vaccinations.

The authorization for children to become vaccinated comes ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday that prompted a surge in viral activity last year, something health officials have warned as another possibility this year. Active cases in Oswego County spiked from roughly 50 in early November 2020 to a high of more than 1,300 in mid-January. Case counts are currently more than four-fold the start of November 2020.

As cases have continued to slowly decline locally in recent weeks, the number of Oswego County residents dying due to COVID-19 complications has surged. The last week in October was among the deadliest since early 2020, with five individual deaths connected to the coronavirus.

The deadly week brings the county total since the start of the pandemic to 120 deaths, according to state Department of Health (DOH) data. The fi ve deaths over the past week are equal to the total deaths in the county at the start of November 2020.

Twenty-five deaths, or more than 1/5 of the total dead in Oswego County since the start of the pandemic, have occurred since the start of September.

Across New York, roughly 20 people are dying each day due to the virus, according to DOH data.

Huang and public health officials across the country continue to urge eligible residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves, their families and their communities.

Nearly 13,000 Oswego County residents, or more than 10 percent of the county population, have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Local health officials note COVID-19 vaccines are widely available through the county Health Department, area pharmacies, community health care clinics and local physicians and health care providers.

The Oswego County Health Department continues to hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics from 1 to 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, located at 70 Bunner St. in Oswego.

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