Local COVID-19 Update for Genesee & Orleans County
Written by Dan Fischer on April 1, 2020
From the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments
SITUATIONAL UPDATE, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
· As of 2:00 p.m. today:
o Genesee County received 1 new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 13 positive cases
§ One under the age of 65 residing in the central part of Genesee County
o For Orleans: 1 new positive case of COVID-19 for a total of 6 positive cases
§ Individual is under the age of 65 and is a resident of the central part of the county.
o None of the new positive cases were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic and are not believed to be connected.
· Contact tracing has been initiated for all the new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms becomes present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus. When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts.
· Healthcare providers are advising patients undergoing swabbing that are symptomatic (based on availability and screening for high-risk) for COVID-19 to self-isolate until test results are received and COVID-19 is ruled out. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
· Currently, NYS clearance protocol for discontinuation of mandatory isolation for persons with confirmed COVID-19 is the following: it has been at least 7 days since the initial positive test for COVID-19, at least 3 days without fever and no use of fever-reducing medication, and improvement in the signs and symptoms of the illness. Swabbing through the Health Departments is warranted as part of our quarantine / isolation protocol for those who become symptomatic. We are not providing community testing at this time. We will be announcing further information on this as local capacity increases.
· Please remain home if ill, even if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to continue to limit physical contact. Flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. Do not be afraid of people because they may be coughing or sneezing, they may have allergies, but continue to keep your distance (at least 6’).
· Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are in higher risk categories – elderly and immune compromised and those with underlying health issues.
o Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.
· Respect / Social Responsibility / Fear mongering / Consequences –Health Departments are mandated to adhere to HIPAA regulations therefore we are not releasing potential identifying information of anyone who is under our care.
o If during contact tracing there is an issue of missing potential contacts we will provide locations. Not everyone who coughs or sneezes has a respiratory virus. People need to be respectful of the process and the guidance surrounding social distancing. COVID-19 is now community transmissible therefore people need to take social distancing seriously.
o There are consequences for not adhering to the directives. Non-compliance may prolong the spread of COVID-19 as well as increasing the spread which can overwhelm our healthcare systems and put our vulnerable populations at increased risk.
o Sticking to the basics: limiting exposure to the public, frequent handwashing, staying home if ill with any respiratory illness, keeping 6’ distance from other people and sharing creative ideas to keep in touch with family and friends are what we need.
· Take media breaks: Talking about who has or hasn’t been tested, is sick or sharing rumors about anything COVID-19 is increasing anxiety in many people. Be respectful and stay home as much as possible. It is safe to go outside or for a ride, but be mindful to keep at least 6’ distance between other people. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, fear about this outbreak call the Care + Crisis Helpline at 585-283-5200, text 741741 or call the NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 884-863-9314, they have trained listeners available 24/7 to help you through this.
· Community Spread: Means you can get it from respiratory droplets from infected people and on any surface as long as the virus is still viable. If you touch a door handle, counter, etc. that has the virus on it, then touch a mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes) you can introduce the virus into your body. Identifying a store or business where people may have been doesn’t help because the virus is everywhere and can give a false sense of security that the virus isn’t somewhere else. Limiting trips to the store and designating only one person for shopping can lower the risk of spreading the virus. With the rising numbers, it is important to know the social distancing guidance will work but it takes time before we can see the results. The coming weeks are most critical in determining how many lives can be saved in our communities by staying safer at home, social distancing, and having good hand (wash often) and cough (do not cough in your hand, but in a disposable tissue or your elbow) hygiene.
· Nature Breaks and Parks: We are getting reports of groups not practicing social distancing. Many parks have roped off areas of their parks to discourage group play (basketball, football, soccer, using shared equipment or frequently touched surfaces such as the playground equipment). This is not a time for playgroups. Parents remind your children they are to keep their distance from non-household members to limit the spread of disease. State Parks are free with limited services available. They are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice social distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. Contact your local park for specific information on any changes to their operations in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
o Guidance on Responsible Recreations During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/decparkscovid19guide.pdf
o Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation COVID-19 Updates: https://parks.ny.gov/covid19/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
o If parking lots are full, come back another time or go to another area of the park. Remember to be safe whenever you are hiking in parks.
o Avoid games and activities that require close contact, frequently touched surfaces such as playground equipment
o Maintain social distancing by keeping at least 6’ of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors
o It is safe to be outside in your backyard or other personal outdoor space. If riding bikes, keep your distance (6’) from non-household people.
|FRAUD ALERT – Watch out for Scams!|
· At this time there are no FDA-approved drugs or treatments for COVID-19.
· There are also no over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. If you get an email, phone call, offer by mail or other solicitation for these scams, hang up and ignore them.
· This is a very important warning to reinforce for every County resident.
· The best medical advice for you comes from your healthcare provider.