COVID cases near 5,000, deaths continue to climb

Above, Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a Friday press conference with a slide showing New York’s progress in distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

OSWEGO — More than 600 Oswego County residents tested positive for COVID-19 this week as the county recorded the three highest single-day counts yet this week, according to county health officials, and deaths associated with the virus climbed by more than 10.

The Oswego County Health Department on Friday reported 4,958 total cases, up from 4,318 a week prior, with the number of active cases increasing from 1,068 to 1,280. Deaths related to COVID-19 rose from 51 to 62 during the same time period as local health officials around the country struggle to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations with a severe shortage of available vaccine.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang noted on Sunday and Thursday this week the county recorded its highest (129) and second-highest (106) number of single-day positive cases, respectively, and on Friday the county then surpassed the second-highest daily total with 108 new cases. Huang and other county officials have urged residents to continue taking the necessary precautions to protect against the virus, and warned it could be months before a significant portion of the population is vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available through the New York State Vaccination Program, but decision-making on where available vaccine is allocated lies with the state. County officials have repeatedly said there are far more people eligible to receive the vaccine than the number of vaccines currently available.

“Right now, supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine are our biggest challenge,” Huang said in a statement Friday. “The allotments we have received from the state have been very limited and we quickly administered all of those doses.”

Nearly 1,500 vaccinations have been given in Oswego County as of Friday, with the county Health Department expected to provide another nearly 1,000 first doses over the weekend. Huang said county health officials have mass vaccination plans in place and are ready to carry out those plans, but simply don’t have the vaccines.

“We’re ready,” Huang said. “We just need a bigger allotment of the vaccine—and on a regular schedule—so that we can plan and publicize clinics and get people vaccinated following the state’s priority schedule.”

Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup, R-Central Square, said the county Health Department and local health care partners are “doing their best to deploy the vaccine,” but echoed Huang’s statement that the issue is the number of vaccine’s being provided by the state.

“While we have the capability to vaccinate several thousand residents a week, we have only received a few hundred doses in that time frame,” Weatherup said, asking residents to be patient and noting the allotment and priority schedules are not controlled locally.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Friday press conference noted 731,285 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered thus far, along with 96,430 second doses. New York has reportedly received more than 1.7 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but much of the vaccine has yet to be administered.

Cuomo on Friday again expressed frustration at the rate in which the vaccine is currently being distributed from the federal level, noting the state expected to receive only 250,000 vaccines this week compared to 300,000 the previous week. Last week, the governor noted at a rate of 300,000 vaccinations a week it would take more than 45 weeks to vaccinate enough New Yorkers to reach herd immunity. Roughly seven million New Yorkers are eligible to receive the vaccine under the prescribed priority guidelines, Cuomo said this week.

For information on the COVID-19 vaccine and possible vaccination clinic locations, visit the Oswego County Health Department website at https://health.oswegocounty.com/information/2019_novel_coronavirus/covid-19_vaccine.php

To check your elgibility visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/

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