ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — On January 8, 2021, Chemung and Steuben County public health departments held their first COVID-19 vaccine clinics. At the time, both counties were clamoring for vaccines, waiting for the New York State Department of Health to distribute more. Many residents struggled to find appointments as the initial rollout began.
“A year ago today, county municipalities were fighting to get as many doses of the vaccine that we could,” Chemung County Executive Chris Moss said. “Now, the problem is getting more people vaccinated.”
Fast forward to January 2022 and both counties say vaccine supply far out weights demand. About 52 percent of residents in both counties are fully vaccinated, according to their respective dashboards. This is about 10 percent below the national average for all age groups.
“People in the community were clamoring for the vaccine and I would get phone call after phone call from people begging and saying, ‘how can I get it?'” Steuben County Health Director Darlene Smith continued.
This anniversary comes as COVID-19 cases spike in our region, especially in Chemung County, which saw a record high of 1,442 active cases on Wednesday. Among the active cases, 205 were new infections. In Steuben County, there are 359 active COVID-19 infections. As for Schuyler County, there are 180 active COVID-19 cases, 107 new infections in the last 24 hours.
“I think you have to remember we’re dealing with two different variants here as well, but we didn’t have the tools, the vaccine, the boosters, and the testing a year ago,” Moss added.
The tools to fight back are within grasp, but Smith says it is up to the community to use them.
“We’re not using them to their maximum efficiency because our vaccination rates aren’t really where they should be. The unvaccinated are the residents are turning positive and certainly the patients who are in the hospitals,” Smith concluded.