15 New Cases In July; 4 In
Hospitals, 3 On Ventilators
By LIBBY CUDMORE & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
After a quiet May and June, 15 cases since the beginning of July, nine in the past week, may mean we’re heading right back where we started from.
“This increase is similar to what we were seeing in the beginning,” county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said Tuesday. “If we continue to see a rise in cases, it could set us back.”
Four of the new cases have been hospitalized, two at Bassett Hospital, one at Fox and one at Albany Med, she said. Three of the four are on ventilators.
Four are in the City of Oneonta, and one in the Village of Cooperstown.
“It’s very concerning,” said Mayor Gary Herzig. “We hope it’s just a blip and not a trend.”
“There’s no explanation for this,” she said, “My only thought is that it’s two weeks past July 4, people were out and about, they were gathering more than usual.”
“To some extent, it’s not a big surprise,” said Herzig. “People are becoming more relaxed,
visitors from outside the area are coming in.”
The good news, she said, is that there’s no trend or common source, and only one of the cases was linked to travel to one of the 22 “hot spots” in the county.
Herzig, one of two county representatives on the Mohawk Valley Regional Control Room, said, as of Tuesday’s meeting, the spike is not being seen throughout the rest of the region.
“We are not in any short-term, visible jeopardy of not moving forward with reopening,” said Herzig. “We need to continue to be vigilant and take all precautions.”
In all, the county has had 93 confirmed cases, with five deaths.
Looking at the new cases in context makes them less worrisome, said county Board Chairman David Bliss, the other local member of the regional control room.
While half the new cases are in southern Otsego County, “they aren’t bunched up in any one place.,” he said. A quarter are health-care workers. And four of the cases are two couples, husbands and wives. “If you count households,” he said, “that cuts the number significantly. That cuts the quarantine spots.”
“I think, like a lot of places, it just comes and goes,” said Bliss. “We have to be careful about county people who travel out of the county to other states. But people are going to continue to get it until we get herd immunity or a vaccine.”
Meanwhile, he urged people to social distance and wear masks.
On Monday, June 20, 206 people were tested. “We’re ramping testing back up,” Bond said.
Currently, Bassett Healthcare is only testing those who are symptomatic. But with the rise in cases, Bond said, her Health Department will be setting up testing sites for anyone who wants to get a test.
The locations have not yet been determined, but Bond is hoping they’ll be in a rural setting where citizens may not have as much access to health care.
Bond continued to stress social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands. She also warned that “nonessential” social gatherings and travel anywhere besides essential business should be limited.
“Now is not the time to get complacent” she said. “We must all take responsibility to reduce the spread of the virus.”
“It’s a wake-up call,” said Herzig. “We cannot let our guard down.”