Chemung County officials address recent spike, Elmira College cluster

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ELMIRA, NY (WETM) – Chemung County Executive Chris Moss and Health Director Pete Buzzetti held a press conference on Thursday discussing the county’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Buzzetti called the situation “alarming” and “staggering” with 114 active cases and 281 new cases in the last seven days.

Officials say that the biggest issue is groups of people going to restaurants and taking their masks off while eating. They’re encouraging people to use take-out options or to not eat with co-workers after work.

Buzzetti is also stressing that people get a flu vaccine to prevent a “double whammy” when flu season reaches its peak.

Elmira College Cluster

Elmira College reported 30 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday morning, something Moss is calling a “cluster.”

The county says they’re having daily meetings with the college and that they’ve recommended no further activities at the college until further notice.

Cases involving students who report their local address will be included in the county’s testing numbers. If a student uses their home address outside the county, which is not recommended, their case will not count in the county.

Local schools

Chemung County will be hiring someone to be a liaison with local school districts to handle cases and contact tracing. The person will be a “school support specialist” who will join in on daily meetings with the schools and be the main point of contact for districts.

Golf Tournaments

Chemung County is issuing guidelines for golf tournaments after an outbreak connected to a Mark Twain Golf Course tournament in mid-September. Moss says that there was “no safety plan” for the tournament and that it “shouldn’t have happened.”

Going forward, there will be no golf tournaments in Chemung County without prior authorization by the health department. Any violations could lead to a fine of no more than $10,000.

Testing

Chemung and Steuben County have received five Abbot 15 testing machines from the State of New York to help their testing capacity. County Executive Moss thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo for providing those machines to the counties.

Lighthouse Baptist Church

There are now 74 cases of COVID-19 in Chemung County directly linked to the Lighthouse Baptist Church, which remains closed at this time. The county says they will keep the church closed until they submit a safety plan, which has not been done yet.

The full press conference can be watched below:


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