It’s been a little more than seven months since New York essentially shut down for the coronavirus epidemic. Today, the state’s infection rate is 1.01%, the lowest in the nation. We have reason to be proud.
But we also have reason for concern.
State health experts warned since midsummer that a second wave of COVID-19 could start rolling out this fall as cooler weather sets in and schools reopen. But we’ve seen the regression as colleges send students home and elementary and high schools try to maneuver between classrooms and remote learning.
Coronavirus cases have now topped 1,000 in the GLOW region since the pandemic arrived locally in mid-March.
Wyoming County alone has experienced 12 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, and 14 since Oct. 1. Community transmission is occurring in the county, Public Health Administrator Laura Paolucci of the Wyoming County Health Department said Tuesday.
The increase prompted a reminder from Paolucci: “With weather changing, gatherings are moving indoors where it may be more difficult to maintain social distance.
“Fall is the beginning of traditional cold and flu season and the Wyoming County Health Department is reminding everyone to maintain social distance,” she continued. “Wear a face covering, practice good hand hygiene and stay away from sick people. Not everyone with a COVID-19 infection has serious symptoms — but they are still contagious and pose a risk of infection to others who may be more vulnerable to serious illness.”
In Genesee County, a recent upswing – 13 since the month began – has included new cases at Elba Central School that has the school going to its remote-learning model through Oct. 12. There have also been seven new cases in Livingston County this month with five of the active cases part of the SUNY Geneseo college community.
While GLOW region infection rates remain low – below 1% in Wyoming and Livingston counties, and just more than 1% in Genesee County – COVID-19 infection rates are spiking in 20 ZIP codes around the state, primarily in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City and Orange and Rockland counties in the Hudson Valley. The coronavirus infection rate in those hot spots is 5.5%. There is also concern over rising rates in Western New York and Broome County in the Southern Tier region.
That’s disturbing news for us and the rest of the state.
The spiking rates led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to close both public and private schools in hot spot ZIP codes in New York City. Schools may be closed in other hot spots, such as Orange and Rockland counties, in the future.
Other restrictions limiting the sizes of gatherings and even shutting down non-essential businesses have again been put on the table as Cuomo outlined a series of color-coded hot spot levels and the steps that would be taken to control the spread of the virus.
Upward trending of the coronavirus continues to prove the most important tools in fighting COVID-19 are wearing face coverings, keeping social distance, frequent hand washing, testing, contact tracing and enforcement of state health mandates.