(WETM) – The region’s daily positivity rate remains low, but the transmission risk is high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every county in New York and Pennsylvania is falling in the red, meaning transmission of COVID-19 is high.
In the Southern Tier, Governor Hochul announced Monday the positivity rate is 3.31 percent, which is the second-lowest in the state behind New York City. This is not a cause for celebration, though, as multiple COVID-related deaths were reported in Steuben County last week.
“I just think you know it continues to highlight how dangerous this virus can be,” Steuben County Health Director Darlene Smith told 18 News.
One reason for the low positivity rate, but more deaths is because of how many tests are being conducted. Chemung County Health says percent positivity is calculated by taking the number of positive tests and diving it by the total tests conducted.
“I really don’t think that it’s cause for celebration at all. I think we reported 70 or 80 cases today,” Pete Buzzetti, Chemung County Public Health director, said.
Testing sites are increasing across the Twin Tiers. Steuben County said they plan on adding more testing centers to their future plans because residents are requesting them.
“Testing was very important one a year ago and it continues to be,” Smith added.
Now children are back in the classroom in both New York and Pennsylvania. Nationally, pediatric COVID-19 cases make up nearly 30 percent of all new positive tests, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“I had to quarantine a soccer team over the weekend. There’s a kindergarten class that’s on quarantine,” Buzzetti continued.
These new cases among children are caused by close contact in extracurricular activities like sports, rather than sitting in a classroom.
“By and large, it’s more related to sporting events at school than it is to classroom transmission,” Smith said.
In two weeks, all healthcare workers in New York will be required to be vaccinated or they could lose their jobs. Smith remains deeply concerned about this upcoming deadline because some healthcare workers object to getting the vaccine and want a test-out option like other state employees and teachers.
“A letter was sent [by several counties] to Governor Hochul and Commissioner Zucker expressing our concern around this and advocating to allow for a testing option,” Smith concluded.
Guthrie Health responded to our request to comment saying they are continuing their education efforts on the vaccine.
Attracting and retaining healthcare staff is not new. The shortage of nurses and other healthcare workers existed before COVID as workers are retiring at a faster rate than new employees are joining the workforce. That, in conjunction with the local population who need more services as they age, puts growing demands on providers of healthcare.
Patients with COVID are currently adding to that demand for services and we are seeing an increase in hospitalizations in our region. However, all Guthrie hospitals regularly adjust staffing to provide the care that our patients need. Patients should trust that hospitals continue to provide quality care and they should not delay seeking services, especially in an emergency.
Today over 81% of Guthrie employees are vaccinated. Many more have appointments scheduled for the first dose in the next two weeks. We are seeing more staff take advantage of our employee vaccination clinics each week. Education and outreach to the remaining employees are underway as we approach the September 27 deadline.Guthrie Health