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January 13, 2022 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, live stream, video.
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Genesee County COVID-19 Briefing for Jan. 13, 2022

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January 10, 2022 - 11:59pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, covid-19, coronavirus, health department, Paul Pettit.
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If you have been confused or concerned by the flurry of shifting, revised, questioned and debated pieces of information out there for dealing with COVID-19, one solution is pointing straight at you.

Do your research, talk to your own healthcare provider and self-report when diagnosed with the virus, says Paul Pettit, director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. 

“Any time you have conflicting messages out there it does create confusion … who should they be listening to and why. We want people to be informed. It’s ok for people to question things, we want them to get the most factual information and make a decision based on that. Ultimately, everybody’s individual health care should be discussed with their doctor,” Pettit said during a livestream interview Monday with The Batavian.

Pettit suggests that people check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and their own state and county health departments to make informed decisions. He’s not forcing any one answer on people, but asking that they acquire factual knowledge before making decisions about how to deal with COVID-19. 

Omicron, the latest — and apparently greatest variant in terms of infectious ability — may account for 85 to 90 percent of all positive cases in rural areas, Pettit said. There have been some 500 cases diagnosed locally just this past weekend alone, he said. Due to the quickly climbing numbers, the health department is changing the way it has handled contact tracing; it will be more of an individual responsibility for those 19 to 64 years of age, he said.

“It has to do with the extreme spread across the state. We just cannot keep up with the isolation and quarantine,” he said. “We’re trying to triage a response. We can’t get to all these contacts, we’re trying to use our resources the best we can.”

As of Monday, the system will depend on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who already tested positive, to self-report online. Go to www.GOHealthNY.org and choose the red COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Information button to be directed to the isolation and quarantine documents. For those who have tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by NYS via email or text. Once you are notified of your positive results by the lab or NYS, immediately self-isolate and notify your close contacts of their potential exposure. For those that test positive in the 19-64 age group, follow the general directions that NYS provides for isolation and quarantine and contact your healthcare provider for medical advice.

For those in schools or congregate settings who are under the age of 18 and over the age of 64, contact tracing will continue as capacity allows, he said. 

Although the omicron variant is highly infectious and has caused breakthrough cases for a lot of vaccinated people, there is an upside, Pettit said. 
“The good news is that it’s not as severe,” he said. 

More cases and less severe does not mean ignoring a diagnosis. People should still heed the five-day isolation rule when their lab result is positive, he said. He has heard from many people that they have symptoms resembling a cold or mild flu, and are also known to the omicron variant: coughing, fatigue, a scratchy throat. He tells them all the same thing.

“The only way to verify (that it’s COVID-19) is to have a test,” he said. “Don’t go to work that day, don’t send your kids to school.”

Genesee County is just under 60 percent for those fully vaccinated, which is “pretty close to our counterparts in the rural region,” he said. The health department is fully stocked with vaccines and booster shots, and people just have to call and make the appointment. A much lower rate of Genesee County residents — 28 percent — have gotten their boosters, which have been shown to be “very effective” at preventing illness and slowing down the potential severity of the virus, he said. 

Interviewer Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, shared his own experience after receiving the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and, a six months afterward, the booster. He had direct exposure to someone who later that day was symptomatic and then diagnosed with COVID-19. Owens quarantined for five days and tested negative with no symptoms. He believes that’s a testament to the protection of the vaccines, he said. 

It’s that kind of personal responsibility that the health department is urging.

“We’re going with more of an honor system. We want people to be responsible, make those decisions and do their part to eliminate Covid within their communities,” Pettit said. “Our data is clearly showing that it prevents severity. With spread so high, we can all do our part. If out in public, put the mask on … more of the well-fitting masks. We’re encouraging people to go out and get their booster shots. Stay home, especially if you’re symptomatic. Hopefully, we’re going to start to see those numbers come down.”

To reiterate Pettit's press release issued last week, if you test positive for COVID-19:

  • Isolate for 5 days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen.
  • If asymptomatic at the end of 5 days or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends and the individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • Individuals who are moderately-severely immunocompromised should continue to follow standard (i.e., not shortened) Isolation Guidance.
  • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for 5 days after a 5-day isolation should also follow standard isolation guidance (i.e., 10 days, not shortened)
  • Quarantine (for those who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19)
  • Quarantine as follows, where day 0 is the last date of exposure:
  • If not fully vaccinated or fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster but not yet boosted, quarantine for 5 days and wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • If fully vaccinated and boosted (with the booster at least 2 weeks before the first date of exposure) or not yet eligible for a booster, no quarantine is required but these individuals should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for 10 days after the last date of exposure.
  • If possible, test at day 5 with either a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT, e.g., PCR) or antigen test.
  • If symptoms appear, quarantine and seek testing. In this situation, quarantine would end when the test is negative. If testing is not done, isolate according to the guidance above.
  • Quarantine orders and releases are also included on the GOHealthNY.org website for you to complete and provide to your employer/school.

For COVID-19 data please visit the NYS site: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-data-new-york.





 

Comments
January 10, 2022 - 3:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, live stream.
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Comments
January 8, 2022 - 8:00am

Although the year is new, an old acquaintance is tagging along and costing Batavia City School District more money to deal with its effects. 

Yes, COVID-19 is on next week’s Board of Education meeting agenda. The board is expected to review a bid from Enviro-Mist for portable medical-grade airborne disinfection control devices. According to the company’s website, Enviro-Mist is “a high-level disinfecting and sterilizing firm recognized as a leader in our industry.”

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday in Batavia High School’s library, 260 State St.

Other financial business includes a vote to approve $8,500 to Campus Construction Management for construction management services and $43,000 to SEI Design Group Architect Services, both related to the emergency repair of the BHS roof. Estimated winds of up to 76 miles per hour damaged the roof on Dec. 11, 2021, and the board is being asked to approve a two-phase repair of $28,000 and $15,000.

Other votes include:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding with each business administrator, executive director of staff development and operations, executive director of curriculum and instruction; the Batavia Teachers’ Association for a Schedule D stipend; and Genesee Community College for the TRIO Upward Bound College Preparation Program.
  • To accept a bid of $94,400 from Kircher Construction Inc. for the window repair and replacement at BHS as part of a 2021-22 capital outlay project.

The agenda also includes time for the public to be heard (sign up before the meeting), and presentations from John Kennedy School Principal Brian Sutton; Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Mike Bromley and Batavia Middle School physical education teacher James Patric; Business Administrator Scott Rozanski; and new Superintendent Jason Smith. 

Board meetings are typically on the third Thursday of every month, however, scheduling conflicts caused a shift for the board and district staff to meet on Tuesday. Meetings will resume the regular Thursday schedule in February, District Clerk Brittany Witkop said. 

Every meeting is live-streamed via YouTube at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8JI99xyBJt1sG  

Comments
January 7, 2022 - 5:58pm
posted by Press Release in UMMC, covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

Rochester Regional Health is reinstating an enhanced hospital visitation policy, effective Tuesday, January 11, 2022. Also, going into effect that day is a new masking policy for visitors. With the rapid transmission of the omicron variant and the dramatic rise of COVID-19 cases, which have led to increased patient volumes, Rochester Regional is implementing enhanced visitor restrictions as they have proven effective during previous COVID surges.  

Vaccinations, including booster shots, proper masking, and social distancing are our community’s best hope to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reopen visitation. Please visit rochesterregional.org for additional visitor restriction details.

Rochester Regional Health Visitation Policy Beginning January 11

No visitation allowed

  • Patients on Enhanced Isolation Precautions (for COVID-19)
  • Emergency department patients
  • Cancer infusion center patients
  • Only exceptions: pediatric patients, labor and delivery patients, patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and cognitive impairments including dementia and patients at the end-of-life (outlined below)

Hospital Visitation Policy

  • Patients may designate two visitors throughout the patient’s stay.
  • Only one visitor is allowed at a time at the bedside for no more than four hours daily.
  • Visitors must be 12 years of age or older.
  • Pediatrics
    • The patient or family/caregiver may designate two support people
    • Only ONE support person may be present on-site at a time in the emergency room or during hospitalization. 
  • Labor and Delivery (Obstetrics)
    • Prior to admission, in labor and delivery triage, ONE visitor/support person, PLUS a certified doula, are allowed. 
    • Patients may have TWO designated adult support people AND a certified doula to be present at the bedside upon admission, throughout labor, delivery and recovery.
    • During postpartum, the couplet may also have a certified doula AND TWO designated adult support people to be present at the bedside.
  • Patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and cognitive impairments including dementia
    • ONE support person may be present on-site at a time in the emergency room or during hospitalization.
    • An additional visitor may also be with the patient and stay for up to four hours per visit during normal visiting hours once the patient is admitted to a room. 
  • End of life patients

o   Patient and/or family/caregiver may designate TWO visitors at a time at the bedside Minor age visitors must be accompanied by an adult.

o   Clergy visiting at the end of life are not counted as one of the two visitors at the bedside.

o   End-of-life determinations are made in coordination with the patient, family/legal guardian, and treatment team. Visitation for end-of-life situations is not restricted by COVID-19 status or hours. All infection control guidelines and instructions must be followed.

  • Patients undergoing ambulatory procedures or surgeries
    • One visitor only for pre-procedure (surgery) and post-procedure (surgery).
    • The visitor must remain masked at all times and must maintain social distancing and hand hygiene as outlined in this policy.
    • Pediatric patients may have two visitors.
  • Behavioral Health Inpatients
    • Two visitors during site-specific hours.

Rochester Regional Health Visitor Mask and Check-In Policy

Masking

  • Cloth masks are not acceptable at this time. Patients and visitors must wear a medical mask upon arrival. The hospital will provide a medical mask to those who need one.

Check-In/Out

  • Visitors are asked to stop at a screening point upon entry of visitation to have their temperature taken.
  • Visitors are asked to stop at a screening point upon completion of the visitation to “check out” with the screener.

Visitation Hours (No change)

o   Rochester General Hospital: 9:00AM – 1:00PM, 4:00PM – 8:00PM

o   Unity Hospital: 9:00AM – 1:00PM, 4:00PM – 8:00PM

o   Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic:  12:00PM – 8:00PM 

o   Newark-Wayne Community Hospital: 12:00PM – 8:00PM 

o   United Memorial Medical Center: 9:00AM – 1:00PM, 3:00PM – 7:00PM  

o   Behavioral Health Facilities: call specific site for hours

Comments
January 7, 2022 - 5:52pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, kathy hochul, coronavirus.

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced new guidance recommending booster doses for all New Yorkers ages 12 and older. The guidance, following action by the CDC, recommends that people, including the newly authorized 12-15-year-old age group, who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should receive a booster dose at least five months after their second dose; the previously recommended interval was at least six months. In addition, moderately to severely immunocompromised 5-11-year-olds can receive an additional primary dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after their second dose. At this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and recommended for children ages 5-11.    

Additionally, the CDC today recommended the same change to a five-month booster interval for the Moderna vaccine, which is only authorized for people 18 years and older.

"As we continue to battle this winter surge, I strongly recommend that all New Yorkers ages 12 and older get boosted as soon they are eligible," Governor Hochul said. "With boosters now available for all adolescents, I especially urge parents and guardians to get their children in this age group a booster dose as soon as eligible. A booster dose will provide greater protection against severe outcomes from COVID-19 and help keep our kids healthy, protected, and safe."  

Governor Hochul additionally announced her plan to require that all covered health care workers previously required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination under the Department's August 26th Emergency regulation must also now receive a COVID-19 booster dose within two weeks of becoming eligible, absent a valid medical exemption. Consistent with the August 26th Emergency Regulation, there is no test-out option. Following review and approval by the Public Health and HealthPlanning Council at their emergency meeting on Tuesday, the emergency regulation will be filed with the Department of State (DOS). Regulations are effective upon the filing with DOS. 

The Governor also announced new rules for nursing home visitations. Starting Wednesday, all visitors must wear "surgical"-type masks and must present upon entry a COVID negative test taken within 24 hours of their visit. Governor Hochul further noted that 952,000 tests and 1.2 million masks are being delivered to nursing homes late this week into next. 

On January 5, 2022, the CDC endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice's (ACIP) recommended expansion of booster dose eligibility for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 to individuals ages 12 through 15. CDC now recommends that all adolescents ages 12 through 17 should receive a booster dose five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series. This followed the CDC's updated recommendations that severely immunocompromised 5-11 year-olds receive an additional primary dose of vaccine 28 days after their second dose, and that people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series should get a booster dose at least five months after the second dose, instead of six months.   

New York State Department of Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Booster doses are a critical tool in our continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am grateful that they are now available for all New Yorkers 12 years of age and older. Data show that people who are vaccinated and boosted are more protected against serious illness from COVID-19, and we continue to urge all those eligible to act now. Do what you can to stay healthy and out of the hospital by getting vaccinated and boosted and wearing a mask. If you have questions, talk to your health care provider or vaccine administrator."  

All state mass vaccination sites are now offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for New Yorkers 12 years of age and older, as well as third doses for immunocompromised people 5 years and older. For more information on boosters and additional doses, see the State's dedicated page here.  

Comments
January 5, 2022 - 10:36am
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, VA Hospital.

Press release:

The following guidance is for visitation at Veteran Affairs Western New York Healthcare System (VAWNYHS) Buffalo and Batavia Campuses effective January 4, 2022, and will remain in place until further notice. 

Due to the surge in COVID-19 infection rates throughout Western New York, VA Western New York Healthcare System has suspended physical inpatient visitation at our Buffalo VA Medical Center site.

VA Community Living Center resident visitation with family members at our Batavia VA Medical Center site will be limited through glass partitions.

Buffalo Campus visitation exceptions (on case by case basis):

  • Hospice/Palliative Care/End of Life requires approval of medical care team and Medical Center Director or Chief of Staff
  • Outpatient Services – Essential Visitor: Scheduled Outpatient Appointments
    • The purpose of this visitor is determined on a case by case basis by the care team and is absolutely essential and critical to the care and needs of the Veteran (example – a Veteran in need of escort to

accompany to an appointment when Veteran is unable to safely navigate to the appointment and/or for a Veteran who is unable to comprehend specific teaching instructions, or is unable to perform

a skill that is critical to the Veterans care including wound care, Foley Care, etc.).

All visitors will be expected to follow this guidance:

  • Upon arrival of the visitor to the screening station, the visitor will be screened (including temperature taken as part of screening process) and will not be granted access if exhibiting signs of COVID-19 or any

illness including a temperature of 100.0 degrees or greater or exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 person(s). 

  • Wear a VA provided face covering mask (neck gators, bandanas, face shields are not an appropriate form of a face covering) while in the facility. If visitor does not have a mask, one will be provided.
  • Perform hand-hygiene when entering facility and before and after visiting a hospitalized Veteran as instructed by staff.
  • Refrain from eating or drinking while visiting a hospitalized patient.
  • To exit the facility immediately following the visitation.
Comments
December 29, 2021 - 5:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, batavia.

img_0359masks.jpg

Gary Patnode, a coordinator with the Emergency Management Office, hands out N-95 masks at a distribution location on Alva Place this afternoon.  Patnode said that as of 4 p.m., the county had distributed more than 3,000 masks, two to a person or four to a household.  The mask distribution is continuing until 6 p.m.

img_0356masks.jpg

Comments
December 23, 2021 - 11:46am
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, Charles Schumer.

Press release:

With COVID’s Omicron variant spreading and Upstate New York overwhelmed by the latest surge, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer launched a major push to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expand testing capacity and support for Upstate communities.  Schumer made a personal call to FEMA Assistant Administrator Keith Turi and Acting FEMA Region 2 Administrator Chad Gorman to urge them to deploy 200 mobile testing sites in New York, 100 across New York State and an additional 100 in New York City. Schumer said that expanding access to testing is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially as we enter the peak of holiday travel and the heart of the harsh winter months.

“Upstate New York is seeing record high COVID cases, and with variants like Omicron already here, we must stop the spread in its tracks and that means testing testing testing. That is why I am calling on FEMA to immediately deploy mobile testing sites across Upstate New York, to give struggling communities the support they need to keep their residents safe,” said Senator Schumer. “Especially as people travel over the winter holidays, easy access to testing is critical to ensure the safety of themselves and loved ones. FEMA must provide Upstate communities the support they need to protect public health and to stay ahead of this variant into the winter.”

New York State yesterday saw a record over 28,000 new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, signifying a significant increase in case counts from just a week ago.

Schumer’s request comes on the heels of his successful push for the federal government to provide free at-home tests to New York community health centers & mobile sites. President Biden announced earlier this week that the federal government would deliver 500 million free at-home rapid testing starting in January. Schumer said that these at home testing kits in tandem with 200 mobile testing sites in the communities that need them most is vital to protecting the health of New Yorkers.

“We now have the testing infrastructure and tools we didn’t have early on in the pandemic,” said Schumer. “It’s one of the keys to stop this surge and keep recovery going.”

According to the World Health Organization, the most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 6-feet; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated.

Comments
December 22, 2021 - 1:32pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are pleased to announce that we will now be able to accept at-home COVID-19 tests.  “We have developed an online form for residents to report a positive test result after taking an at-home COVID-19 test,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health.

Positive test results are to be reported to the Health Department within 24 hours of completing the at-home test. Individuals can visit the GO Health website COVID-19 Testing page under Emerging Issues (GOHealthNY.org) and choose the appropriate Home Test button for their respective county. Individuals should complete the at-home tests according to the directions provided. When the test is completed, individuals should take a picture with the individual’s name, the date and the time they took the test legibly written on the test within 15 minutes of reading the results. Towards the end of the online form, the individual will be required to upload the picture on the website and attest to the authenticity and truth of the form.  If there are any missing sections that are required, the form is invalid.  At this time, individuals do not need to report negative at-home test results.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is to self-isolate for at least 10 days. A Case Investigator will contact the individual to determine any potential contacts, check on the individual’s health and provide guidance on their isolation.  Please answer the phone and be able to provide information regarding potential contacts when called. Also note, depending on our case load, it may be a day or two before you are called.  It is important to continue with self-isolation from household members as much as you are able.  If you must share space, make sure all in contact with you are wearing masks covering their nose and mouth and frequently shared items/surfaces are sanitized often.

Please note home testing may not be accepted for travel or events.  Check with your travel / event planner for what is acceptable.  For information on COVID-19 testing, visit https://gohealthny.org/covid-19-testing-information/ or https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

Comments
December 20, 2021 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

There are currently 35 Genesee County residents hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Health Department data released today.

The county also reports 209 positive COVID-19 tests since Dec. 16.

There are currently 275 known active cases in Genesee County.

Of the previously reported positive cases, 150 people have completed their mandatory isolation.

Comments
December 13, 2021 - 2:19pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the mask protocol for all indoor public places announced Friday is now in effect, as well as a new Frequently Asked Questions resource for business owners and the general public.

Masks are now required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. As noted on the Frequently Asked Questions webpage, an indoor public place is defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence -- businesses and venues New Yorkers frequent that are publicly owned or owned by private business. These entities include indoor entertainment venues, concert halls, indoor sports stadiums, recreational spaces, restaurants, office buildings, shopping centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, houses of worship and common areas in residential buildings. Posters encouraging people to wear masks and get vaccinated are available for businesses to use here and here.

"As Governor, my top priority is to protect the health of New Yorkers and the health of our economy, and these temporary measures will help us get through the holiday season safely," Governor Hochul said. "I share everyone's frustration that we have gotten to this point, especially with the vaccine at our disposal. I want to thank the millions of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. We are all in this together and if others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary."   

This major action to address the winter surge and concern over upcoming holiday gatherings comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise statewide to be in alignment with the CDC's recommendations for communities with substantial and high transmission. The State Health Commissioner issued a determination solidifying the requirement. 

This measure is effective until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions, and brings added layers of mitigation during the holiday season when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering and visiting holiday-themed destinations.     

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Taking this action now is critical to slowing the COVID-19 winter surge during the holidays. Each of you can contribute: get vaccinated, get boosted if you are already vaccinated and wear a mask. We urge the public to support these new requirements in indoor public places by cooperating with the venues. We need everyone to do their part to get through this together."

For information how businesses and venues can implement a proof of vaccination requirement or a mask wearing requirement, see the Frequently Asked Questions here.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are free and widely available statewide. New Yorkers can visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, New Yorkers can visit the Am-I-Eligible site. New Yorkers can also contact their health care provider, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies. 

New Yorkers can retrieve their Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus here. Businesses and venues can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app—free for any business nationwide and available in more than ten languages—here

Comments
December 10, 2021 - 4:05pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, UMMC, covid-19, coronavirus, batavia, notify.

pxl_20211011_150203818_2_1.jpg

Perspective is everything, so the saying goes.

And for one nurse practitioner at Batavia’s United Memorial Medical Center, it’s been a lesson worth remembering from this past year of all things COVID-19.

“I didn’t expect to lose so many people in a year. The wins are great; it’s so awesome to take a breathing tube out and hear them saying good morning to you,” Marie Campbell said during an interview with The Batavian.

“I was hoping for more wins than losses … it’s one hour, one day, one minute at a time.”

Campbell, originally from Connecticut and a current resident of Akron, first joined the Air  Force on her way to a medical career path. It was while stationed In Texas that she met her future husband Bill. They moved to his hometown of Akron and had three boys, James, now 7, Alexander, 4, and 18-month-old Malcolm. Mrs. Campbell wanted to find a job that was “exciting and interesting,” she said, and opted to attend D’Youville College and University at Buffalo, eventually completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Once done with the educational portion of learning, Mrs. Campbell landed a job in the neurological Intensive Care Unit at Buffalo General, and then in the ICU at UMMC a year ago Nov. 30. To bump up the stress another notch, she was pregnant during those first tenuous months of the pandemic, giving birth to Malcolm in May 2020.

Mrs. Campbell was shielded from COVID-19 patients initially, she said, until after she gave birth. When she first came onto the ICU floor, it was a safety protocol all the way, she said: Here’s your N95 mask, gloves, gown, and special headgear. 

“It’s scary,” Mrs. Campbell said. “I’m changing my clothes in the garage and I don’t go into the house … it’s really tough when three kids want to tell me about their day.”

She has emphasized that they’re not to touch her until she has changed and cleansed thoroughly. It has become a habit for them to ask “can I touch you?” and the cautious mom has had to say “no” all too often, she said.

As a nurse practitioner, she deals a lot with the families of patients, explaining what’s going on and what the medical treatment plan entails. Patients with COVID-19 could not have visitors whereas those with illnesses other than the virus could. 

“Most of the interactions with families were on the phone,” she said. “COVID patients don’t get visitors unless they’re end of life. I’ve lost track of all the patients we’ve lost over the last year; I’ve stopped counting.”

One of the most difficult talks she has with patients is that they need a breathing tube and be intubated. “That terrifies people,” she said, “and family members are terrified.”

“In people’s mind, if you put a person on a breathing tube, they won’t survive,” she said.

Although that’s not true, it’s what many people have come to believe about having that tube down their throat, she said. Those with COVID-19 are more often than not unvaccinated and in their 50s and 60s, she said. Their reasons for not getting the shot vary, from their belief it is not safe and decisions to wait awhile longer to see more results, to not thinking the virus is a real threat, she said.

“Being vaccinated makes a difference; it does not mean you’re 100 percent safe, but it does make a huge difference in going into the ICU,” she said. “A large percentage of those not vaccinated … end up getting really sick.”

Her job also includes performing intubations, putting in central lines (which are larger IVs), and reviewing patient charts and lab results. The challenges of a pandemic and constant loss of life have been outweighed by the less intrusive rewards.

“As hard as it was, it was the right decision for me,” she said, highlighting a perk of her job. “The feeling I can make a difference in someone’s life. Often they’re very, very sick, and I can talk to their families. Being able to talk to them, explain things to them … giving them comfort in knowing we’re doing everything we can.”

Her schedule puts the mom of three at work seven days at a time, followed by seven days off. Her days typically begin with waking up the kids and spending some precious time with them before taking care of urgent matters at the hospital, she said.

Despite their tender ages, her children seem to be quite aware of COVID-19 and what it means. She laughed when describing a time she was carrying her 18-month-old son into a medical office, and he reached over to grab some hand sanitizer. 

There are also those sad times, she said. The 35-year-old has been surprised, given she’s in a “small community hospital,” to see the number of sick people coming through the door. Her husband contracted COVID-19 before the vaccine was available to him, and he has since gotten it. The couple is thankful he did not suffer the serious side effects known to so many. Those others have not been as fortunate, she said.

“There are multiple people who wished they had gotten vaccinated, and they passed away,” she said, sharing a piece of advice she’s had to embrace. “When you leave work, you just have to leave it at work. My focus is being at home, enjoying my family.” 

One such patient — a gentleman who had gotten the virus at a wedding — came to her mind. His last words were that “I never should’ve gone to that f- - - ing wedding.” He then died.

It hasn’t all been so bleak, though, Mrs. Campbell said. Many younger patients have gone on to do “really well” and get discharged, even after being on a ventilator. 

“It does happen; the tube is removed and they go home,” she said. “And those are always the best ones.”

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Top photo: Marie Campbell, a nurse practitioner at UMMC in Batavia, enjoys time spent with her family, including son Malcolm, 18 months. Sons James, 7, and 4-year-old Alexander also look forward to being with mom, who works with a patient on the Intensive Care Unit floor at UMMC, and dad, Marie's husband Bill, above. 

Comments
December 10, 2021 - 10:10am
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This a major action to address the winter surge comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise statewide to be in alignment with the CDC's recommendations for communities with substantial and high transmission. The State Health Commissioner issued a determination solidifying the requirement.    

This determination is based on the State's weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. This measure is effective Dec. 13, 2021 until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions. The new measure brings added layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering, and visiting holiday-themed destinations.     

"As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy. The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season. We shouldn't have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers' frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet," Governor Hochul said. "I want to thank the more than 80 percent of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary."   

"I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas," Governor Hochul added. 

Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%. While the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated continues to increase—gaining 2% from Thanksgiving weekend to now—the uptick is not fast enough to completely curb the spread of the virus, particularly among communities with low vaccination coverage.

The State Department of Health has produced nation-leading studies, published in the CDC's MMWR and the New England Journal of Medicine, which demonstrate the COVID-19 vaccines' effectiveness - particularly in preventing severe disease. The Department continues to urge eligible New Yorkers of all ages to get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Community spread requires a community-minded solution, as the Omicron variant emerges and the overwhelmingly dominant Delta variant continues to circulate. We have the tools we need to protect against the virus - and now we must ensure we use them. There are tools each individual can use, and there are actions we can take as a government. Getting vaccinated protects you, and wearing a mask is how we will better protect each other. Both vaccination and mask-wearing are needed to slow this COVID-19 winter surge."    

A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.        

Business/Venue Proof of Full-Course Vaccination Requirement    

Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, or a CDC Vaccination Card. In accordance with CDC's definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual's last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.    

Business/Venue Mask-Wearing Requirement    

Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons two years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors.    

Continued Masking Requirements    

Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Further, the State's masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.    

New York State and the State's Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. Children 2 - 5 who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are free and widely available statewide. New Yorkers can visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, New Yorkers can visit the Am-I-Eligible site. New Yorkers can also contact their health care provider, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies.

New Yorkers can retrieve their Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus here. Businesses and venues can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app—free for any business nationwide and available in more than ten languages—here.      

Comments
December 7, 2021 - 4:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

There were 236 new positive tests for COVID-19 among Genesee County residents over the past week, along with 250 people who had been positive but have been released from mandatory isolation.

The total active positive cases among local residents is 226 as of Monday.

Of those, 35 local residents are hospitalized.

Two more people, including one under age 65, have died as a result of contracting COVID-19, bringing the death total in Genesee County to 302 since the start of the pandemic.

As for vaccination, 30,551 Genesee County residents are fully vaccinated, or just shy of 56 percent of the population.

Comments
December 5, 2021 - 1:47pm
posted by Press Release in coronavirus, covid-19, news, Charles Schumer.

Press release:

With COVID’s Omicron variant spreading, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said the key to controlling it centers around the at-home tests now for sale across the country. Schumer praised President Biden for prepping a plan to be released on January 15th that will have insurance companies reimburse for the cost of an at-home test—but, he said, while we wait, he wants a surge of rapid at-home tests sent to New York community health centers and their mobile sites, across the state.  

“While many portions of the country are waiting for the omicron variant to arrive, New York already has cases—but this doesn’t mean we should panic. It means we should be planning,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. 

“You see, a key to controlling Omicron is the at-home test, where you can swab your own nose, follow simple steps, determine if you have COVID, and take the right steps thereafter. Right now, these at-home tests are pretty affordable across the country, but they’re not free, but they should be. So, I am asking for the feds to send a surge of these to New York CHCs and their mobile sites where they should come at no cost. We should be arming the public with at-home tests to stay ahead of this variant into the winter,” Schumer added.   

Schumer urged for these at-home tests to be totally free, as in no fine print. He said people should be able to walk into a CHC or visit one of their mobile sites and pick up an at-home test free of charge. Schumer urged a surge of the at-home tests to New York, especially, saying that omicron is already here and that we must work now to contain its spread. Schumer said the funds to pay for these free tests have already been appropriated to HHS via the American Rescue Plan (ARP) he helped pass through Congress and the president signed into law.

Last week, the Biden administration announced its winter plan to beat back COVID. The administration will soon mandate insurers reimburse Americans for purchasing at-home tests. Three federal departments will issue the guidance for this action on Jan. 15. The guidance will stipulate that people who buy the tests will be able to seek reimbursement from their group health plan or health insurer and have it covered during the public-health emergency, according to the Wall Street Journal. The administration has authority to do this under legislation that Congress passed in March that required group health plans and issuers to cover diagnostic Covid-19 testing, the Journal reported. 

In the meantime, Schumer, today, is saying that sending a surge of these at-home tests to New York can once again utilize the CHC infrastructure that made getting shots in arms successful during the earliest days of vaccine availability. 

The Omicron variant has been detected in 11 states so far, and about 40 countries. Scientists are also still investigating the impact of the Omicron variant, how contagious it is, how easily it might spread, and more. Schumer, today, said this is exactly why a surge of at-home tests and a campaign to have people use them could make all the difference.

“We have this tool we didn’t have early on—an at-home test,” said Schumer. “It’s one of the keys to keeping this recovery going, and we ought to use them.”

According to the WHO, the most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 6-feet; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, and get vaccinated. 

There are more than 70 federal community health centers (CHC) with 800 sites throughout New York, according to the Community Health Care Association of NY.

Comments
December 3, 2021 - 6:02pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, animal shelter.

Press release:

Due to the increase in Covid cases within the county, Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr. is requiring all business (including animal adoptions and turn ins) at the Genesee County Animal Shelter be conducted by appointment only.  This goes into effect beginning Monday, December 6.  This is a precautionary measure to prevent the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to community members, Animal Shelter employees, and volunteers.   

Comments
December 1, 2021 - 5:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

While there have been 307 new positive COVID-19 cases in Genesee County in the current reporting period, there has been a sharp decline overall in the number of current active cases since Nov. 22, when there were 397 active cases.  

As of today's report, there are 243 cases, with 30 of those people in the hospital.

The current reporting period, with 307 new cases, covers from Nov. 22 through Nov. 29, indicating recoveries over the past two days have outpaced new cases.

Between Nov. 22 and Nov. 29, there were 459 people removed from mandatory isolation due to a previous positive test.

One more person died during the week, bringing the total number of COVID-19-related deaths to 300 in Genesee County.

Comments
November 29, 2021 - 12:06pm

lesho.jpgOmicron B.1.1.529 -- a new and rapidly changing variant of the coronavirus that just this month was first identified by scientists in South Africa -- probably has found its way to the United States and should be considered as highly transmissible.

That's the opinion of Dr. Emil P. Lesho (photo at right), an Infectious Disease specialist with Rochester Regional Health, who addressed the media this morning via Zoom.

When asked about Omicron's impact in the Finger Lakes Region, Lesho said it's a bit early to tell, but "the quick answer is … it's likely in the United States."

"At last count, it was reported in 13 different countries, including Canada. So, it was first detected in South Africa … that doesn't necessarily mean that's where it originated, that's where it was detected first," he said.                                                                        

Noting that the variant has been linked to travel, he said the detection process "requires advanced whole genome sequencing (and) most hospital labs in the United States can do that technology."

"Specimens have to be collected first, then they have to be prepared, then they have to be sent to a special sequencing laboratory," he said. "So, that takes time. But as we speak, Rochester Regional is looking for this variant. We have our laboratories collecting samples and preparing them in the way I just described."

In the United States, public health officials believe that early evidence indicates an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron as compared to other variants, such as Delta. In fact, the Biden administration has placed a travel ban from South Africa and seven neighboring countries duo to this variant.

Lesho, when asked what doctors and researchers know about Omicron, said there's "a lot that we don't know."

"And, some of what myself and what anybody says today can be changed tomorrow; we're learning more and more every day."

He said Omicron has been labeled "a variant of concern," which is the highest classification of variants on the books at this time. Others are variants of interest and variants of high consequence, but as of now, no variants of high consequence have been identified.

"What we know about this Omicron -- why it's labeled a variant of concern is because of the number of changes that it has undergone, and in the rate that it had accumulated these changes; the speed at which these changes occurred," he offered. "That's what kind of surprised scientists and laboratorians."

Lesho said this one appears to be more transmissible in light of nearly 50 changes in this virus compared to preceding strains.

"It’s those number of changes or those mutations, that that are of concern. Additionally, it's where those mutations occur. So, this whole genome sequencing that I mentioned looks at the entire genetic makeup of an organism. And so that enables us to look at which parts of it have these changes," he said. "Of those 50 changes, maybe 30 or so are in the area that the vaccine uses to instruct our bodies to make the protective antibodies. So that's why it's concerning."

In any event, the doctor said that getting vaccinated -- including the booster shot at least six months after the primary series -- "still, is the best way we can protect ourselves ..."

Other points addressed by Lesho today are as follows:

VACCINATION AND VARIANTS

While vaccines provide the most protection -- apart from natural immunity from having the virus plus vaccination -- Lesho said vaccination rates globally are relatively low.

"Not many countries have been as fortunate as developed countries, such as Israel, United States ... United Kingdom," he said. "Countries in Africa have vaccination rates as low as 20 percent ... and there's potentially only 70 percent of the people in the United States that are vaccinated.

"So, what they're learning is when they talk about herd immunity -- when you get through about 70 percent of the population being immune to help the epidemic or the pandemic stop spreading, maybe we're seeing with these higher transmissible variants like Delta and this one, it may be more upwards of 80 or 85 percent, Still, the way we can prevent these new mutations and these new variants from emerging is to get as many people in the population as immune as possible."

AS WINTER APPROACHES

Lesho had a sobering message as the cold and flu season arrives and as COVID-19 cases increase: "Well, what we can expect is, unfortunately, increased fatalities."

"We are already seeing increased number of patients in the hospital and also in the ICU. And on ventilators now. So we've been seeing that unfortunate uptick for a few weeks now. So, generally, two weeks after that you have more seriousness of infections, then you start to see the fatalities. So, I think in the next couple of weeks, we'll see some fatalities."

He said that eight or nine out of 10 patients with severe risk of infections were unvaccinated.

"Now, we're seeing some breakthrough (those previously vaccinated) infections there. For the most part, for the vast majority of the breakthrough infections are not as severe as the infections in the unvaccinated. So, we can also expect more cases as people go indoors, and they gather. And then as people go to holiday gatherings."

LEVEL OF OMICRON SYMPTOMS

Lesho said Omicron symptoms are similar to previous variants.

"If you're fully vaccinated or you got an infection and then you got vaccinated, you might have very minimal symptoms and you might test positive for various reasons," he said, "So, but you could have -- it starts out typically as a loss of taste plus smell and like a fever, nausea ... COVID can present in many different ways. It can present as a gastrointestinal illness or a respiratory illness. So, the typical symptoms of the prior strains are what we expect this to present as well."

Photo courtesy of WHEC-TV.

Comments
November 24, 2021 - 3:30pm
posted by Press Release in news, health, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

“While we remain committed to the health and safety of our communities, Genesee and Orleans County will not be creating or implementing any new mask or vaccine mandates at this time.  We believe new mandates will only push residents into private settings where spread will still continue but local businesses will suffer.  For almost two years, businesses across the region have taken various measures to protect their workplaces and we trust them to do the same at this time.”

“We recognize and are concerned about rising infection and hospitalization rates, which is why we continue to strongly encourage our businesses and residents to continue to follow CDC recommendations and mitigation strategies such as practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated, including booster shots. It is also important to note that those who become infected and those who are symptomatic should immediately isolate.”

“Finally, the state needs to provide greater testing resources for our schools and community as a whole, both for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.  This is important as those we can identify as Covid-19 positive can be quickly isolated to help prevent spread.  Local governments alone cannot be expected to find and procure all of the test kits needed between the school and community needs.”

Comments
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