They May Not Be Working

At Bassett Hospital, Though

By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Three of the 33 in-county people who tested positive in Otsego County are healthcare workers, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond announced for the first time in her Tuesday, April 7, tally.

However, where they worked and how they became infected with coronavirus is, for now, unknown.

Bassett spokeswoman Karen Huxtable-Hooker would not confirm or deny that the individuals were Bassett employees. She cautioned against making that assumption.

If the workers are not Bassett employees, they could work for a number of other entities within the county, or could commute to jobs in Utica, Albany or other places.

Huxtable would only say, “Positive cases are based on a person’s county of residence, I believe,” she said.

While not revealing where the three worked, Bond said, “No one worked while ill. They worked in the acute care setting.”

The local number more than doubled from 16 in last week’s editions to 33 this week. Statewide, the number of cases has soared to nearly 140,000, with about 77,000 of those in New York City.

Nine of the 33 in-county cases have recovered.

And there have been no additional deaths since Brenda Utter, 63, of Morris, passed away at Bassett on March 26.

Bond said local people should continue to follow precautions to protect themselves and help keep the hospital’s caseload manageable.

“I think we are going to see the cases rise,” Bond said. Each time a new case is found, others follow as the sick person’s contacts are tracked, she said. “There is obviously still illness around.”

The number of positive cases in Otsego County has been growing slowly but steadily since the first local case was reported March 23.

Of Otsego County’s positive cases, 19 sick patients are managing their illness at home.

After the initial burst of calls to Bassett’s 607-547-5555 COVID-19 hotline, numbers dropped off to 250 to 300 on weekdays and about 150 a day on weekends. Of just under 250 callers Monday, 123 were given appointments and were seen at external screening sites Monday.

Bassett has tested over 1,000 people in the eight-county region it serves and continues to see a 10-percent rate of positive readings. Most of those cases can be managed at home, but 16 people are now hospitalized, Huxtable said.

Of the 33 confirmed cases in Otsego County, 16 are close contacts of other known positive cases, but nine have no known source of contact. Of the others, five either worked in or traveled to New York City.

The county Health Department has gotten some calls reporting people who are not following precautionary recommendations.

“It’s campers at campgrounds or neighbors going here or there,” Bond said.

In addition to social distancing and washing hands, federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing masks in places where it isn’t possible to stay 6 feet from others. The supermarket might be such a place, she said.

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