(WETM) – With fewer hospitalizations in New York State, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still high in the Twin Tiers. Vaccine access continues to increase, as eligibility expands and supply increases. With this increase, it is important to remember we are not out of the woods yet.
The New York Times coronavirus tracker lists Steuben, Chemung, Tioga, and Schuyler counties in New York as well as Tioga County Pennsylvania as very high risk. Bradford County, which has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases recently, is listed as extremely high risk.
This data is slightly different than that from the New York Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As consumers, it can be challenging to understand the differences. Experts say no matter which data set you examine, the important takeaway is that cases and exposure rates are increasing.
“April 8 to April 14, we’ve had 121 positives. If we compare that to a similar week, the ninth to the 14th of March, we had 75 cases,” Chemung County Health Director Pete Buzzetti said.
This rise in cases is due to relaxed health protocol and an increase in variant cases.
“People have relaxed a little bit. I think any of us that go out in public can tell, it’s been a long hard year masks are not worn as consistently,” Chief Quality Officer Dr. Michael Scalzone added.
This week Bradford County saw a large uptick. Infectious disease experts and public health officials added proper mask use is key to beating this virus.
“It’s risk elimination versus risk reduction, we’re never going to get to risk elimination, but it’s all about risk reduction,” Buzzetti continued.
“We have lower vaccination rates than other parts of the country. Look at for example our 65 and older population. It’s somewhere between 40 and 50 percent vaccinated, and yet nationwide that’s over 70 percent,” Dr. Scalzone said.
It is important to recall those health protocols like masking, social distancing and cleaning surfaces. For masking, Buzzetti encourages everyone to wear their mask over their nose. COVID-19 lives in the nasal cavity, making it critical to protect.