Record 17 Hospitalized In County
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Heidi Bond warned us.
“I’d say 50 percent of our cases are coming from Thanksgiving,” she said. “We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it easy.”
As of Tuesday, Dec. 8, with a new record of 17 hospitalizations and 134 active cases of COVID-19, Bond told the county board’s Health & Education Committee her staff is working “overtime and weekends” to keep up with the ever-rising numbers of COVID cases in the county.
That day, the county hit a new daily high for community spread, with 35 cases reported.
“There are only 10-12 hospital beds and four ICU beds at Bassett right now,” she said. “We are reaching a critical point. We’re seeing people getting sicker quicker, often within the first 10 days of the illness.”
Four people are in the ICU, she said, and, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, one of them is under 40, believed to have gotten it from a roommate.
By contrast, she said, there were no hospitalizations in November.
“What frustrates me most,” she said. “Is the co-worker who gets COVID in the office. They didn’t go to the bar or Thanksgiving dinner. They just went to work. We need to take better personal responsibility to protect our co-workers and our families.”
On Dec. 5, Bond issued a quarantine recommendation after a patron at the Cooperstown Vets’ Club tested positive for COVID-19. By Tuesday, Dec. 8, 13 people linked to the club had tested positive.
“A patron was socializing without a mask,” she said. “That’s how it spreads.”
In addition to the Vets’ Club, cases have emerged in the Morris, Oneonta and Schenevus school districts, and among employees and residents in group homes in Otego and Edmeston.
“I feel like it’s to the point where public health is working so hard to reduce the spread, and people are continuing to behave in ways that spread the virus,” said Bond. “When we have this much community infection, people need to stay home.”
With her staff stretched thin – contact tracing in a school, for example, can take up to 10 hours – Bond is seeking to ask the board for additional manpower.
“I haven’t had the time to figure out what staff would be most beneficial,” she said.
Though NY Forward reported that 170,000 doses of the COVID vaccine would be delivered to the state by next week, Bond told the committee that it could be “months” before the vaccine was available to the general population.
In the meantime, she suggests that, if unwilling to stop socializing, to at least practice harm reduction techniques.
“100 percent reduction is not seeing anyone,” she said. “But if you use precautions at work and don’t go to bars or see people outside of your home, you can reduce transmission.” But Bond is running out of hope that things will improve.
“If people didn’t stay home on Thanksgiving, I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but it’s not going to change,” she said. “And Christmas is an even bigger holiday for visiting.”