OSWEGO — COVID-19 cases continually fell throughout a frigid and snowy February in Oswego County and New York state, with new cases falling to their highest levels since mid- to late-November.
Closing in on the one-year mark since the coronavirus first showed up in communities across the nation, nearly all signs appear to be trending in a positive direction as vaccinations increase and new positive cases are dropping. Statewide positivity rates fell to their lowest point since late November this week, and the number of active cases in Oswego County at last measure was the lowest since Nov. 9.
“Defeating COVID-19 is front and center in New York state, and declining positivity rates and hospitalizations are aiding our efforts to vaccinate more New Yorkers, reopen the economy and get to the light at the end of the tunnel,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. “We’re vaccinating New Yorkers at a fast clip and expanding our network of distribution sites as fast as we can, but we’re going to need more vaccines to address a large enough portion of the population to defeat this pandemic once and for all.”
According to the state Department of Health (DOH), the positivity rate in the central New York region over the past seven days is just over 1 percent, less than half the statewide rate of 3.36 percent. DOH reported 13 residents tested positive for COVID-19 in Oswego County in the 24 hours prior to the latest reporting, and 158 total in the adjacent counties of Onondaga, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida and Cayuga.
In the central New York region, 70 individuals were hospitalized at last count, according to DOH, the second fewest among the state’s 10 regions and tied for the fewest per capita among regions.
More than 3,500 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Oswego County between Thanksgiving and mid-January, making up well over half of the total cases reported to date. The peak of the post-holiday surge saw more than 1,300 individuals, or more than 1 percent of the total Oswego County population, actively infected with the coronavirus in mid-January.
Over the past month, the number of active cases has fallen by roughly 90 percent to about 135 active cases at the county’s latest reporting while fewer than 800 total cases have been reported. Over the past week, the daily count of new cases has remained below 20 — a steep reduction from the mid-January peak that saw more than 100 new cases on certain days.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang on Friday said despite the recent downturn in new cases, individuals should continue to follow all the health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We must not become complacent with this downward trend,” Huang said. “The virus continues to be active in our community and we are still facing emerging coronavirus variants and relative vaccine shortage.”
Huang urged residents to continue wearing face masks, social distance, hand wash frequently and avoid non-essential gatherings.
Cuomo announced Friday the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state fell to 5,626, the lowest since mid-December. The decreasing number of new cases and hospitalizations come at a time when vaccinations are on the rise and supplies from vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer are expected to increase in the coming weeks.
Vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstaZeneca are also nearing approval and could soon become available in the U.S., further increasing the vaccine supply. Local and state officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that unreliable and inadequate supply are the biggest obstacles holding back large-scale vaccination efforts.
Huang last week said the local vaccine supply has been increasing slightly, but supplies are still far lower than demand. The county Health Department and local health care providers and pharmacies have been vaccinating eligible populations, which earlier this month expanded to include individuals with comorbidities, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancer.
Roughly two months after the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines reached Oswego County, about 9,950 residents have completed the two-dose vaccination regimen, with another roughly 6,200 individuals in the county receiving a first dose.
According to the most recent data released by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), roughly 13.7 percent of the more than 117,000 Oswego County residents have started their COVID-19 vaccination schedule. The 16,120 individuals receiving at least one dose of the vaccine is a steep increase from the estimated 1,500 provided within the county a little over a month ago.
Across the broader central New York region, which includes Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties, a little more than 83,000 individuals have completed the two-dose vaccine series, while about 144,000 people have received at least the first dose. Statewide, about 1.5 million New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated, with another roughly 2.7 million receiving the first dose, according to DOH.
County Health Department officials are scheduled to hold another vaccination clinic in Fulton today.