ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Chemung County, like much of the Southern Tier, has crossed into the CDC- designated “Orange Zone,” meaning there is a substantial rate of COVID-19 transmission within the region.
Orange Is the leaf when you go from a moderate level of community transmission to a substantial level of community transmission,” Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith explained. “The benchmark is 50 cases over the last seven days.”
Anyone in the CDC-designated “Red” or “Orange” zones are advised – but not required – to wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
“If the numbers continue to rise and the level of community transmission continues to change and increase, utilizing masks more often and certainly in indoor space would be a very effective tool to put in place once again,” Smith said.
The spike in cases comes less than a month before thousands of children are scheduled to return to the classroom for the fall.
According to the latest data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children accounted for nearly 94,000 new COVID-19 last week. That’s up 31-percent from the week before.
Children now make up roughly 15-percent of all infections and experts said the Delta Variant is partially to blame.
“For delta variants, there is an easier pathway of transmission amongst individuals who are unvaccinated,” Dr. Justin Nistico of Arnot Health said. “It’s not to say it’s more deadly or more serious in children. I think it’s just more serious across the board because as we go further on and mutations and variations.”
Despite the low vaccination numbers, children still make up a small percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
Experts continue to agree that masking up and getting the vaccine is the best way to put an end to the pandemic and stop new variants from forming.