Chemung County officials fear Halloween COVID spike, don’t expect orange zone to end next week


ELMIRA, NY (WETM) – Chemung County Executive Chris Moss and Director of the Chemung County Health Department, Peter Buzzetti, both expressed concern regarding the upcoming Halloween weekend and the number of COVID-19 cases in the area.

During a press conference on Friday the county noted that hospitalizations are now up in the area, but their testing capacity is “phenomenal” compared to where they started.

They also noted that while Trick or Treating has not been canceled in the county, municipalities have been recommended to not set trick or treat times this year.

Those who do trick or treat are reminded to wear a mask and to socially distance themselves. Moss and Buzzetti noted that Halloween costume masks are not substitutes for medical or cloth masks.

Public Health Director Buzzetti says he is “very worried” about Halloween and that we’ll know if there was a Halloween cluster about 10-14 days after the holiday weekend.

When asked about the county’s orange and yellow zone areas, County Executive Moss said that the area’s 7-day rolling average of positve tests is “not going down quick enough” to come out of the zones at this time.

Those zones are set by the Governor’s office, which is expected to address the area’s status sometime mid-next week. Currently the positive rate is 6.7%, almost double what the Governor said he would like to see for an area to come out of the micro-cluster zone.

The county is also monitoring the Elmira Correctional Facility’s COVID-19 cluster where 590 inmates and 45 staff members tested positive. The facility has also had 920 negative tests and the county has had contact with the DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci regarding the cluster.

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