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covid-19

September 19, 2021 - 10:57am

There have been many complaints and much concern expressed about Batavia City Schools’ current busing situation, Board President Alice Benedict says. Parents have been quite vocal about the need to put three students per seat on Jackson and John Kennedy school buses, however, it has all been online.

Board meetings have been void of any such vocal discourse, she said.

“No parents have ever attended. But there have been lots of comments on social media,” Benedict said during an interview Saturday. “We’re criticized for the choices made, but nobody has taken the time to come and talk to us. Unfortunately, it’s something we don’t have any control over.”

A lack of drivers at the district’s bus operator, Student Transportation of America, has in turn meant fewer buses per run. To accommodate all of the students needing transportation, they have been assigned three per seat, she said.

“There’s not anything the school district can do about it, other than ask parents to take their kids off the bus and drive them to school themselves,” she said. “We’re still talking to the bus company … for me personally as a board member, (Business Administrator) Mr. Rozanski is doing the best he can. They just don’t have the bodies to drive.”

Batavia is far from alone in this dilemma. ABCnews.go.com states that schools across the country, from Pennsylvania and Virginia to Missouri, Ohio, and Texas, have reported similar shortages. Georgia’s Savannah-Chatham County Public School System reported a 30 percent decrease of more than 110 drivers upon the start of this school season, the website states. Covid is to blame for the lack of drivers, Paul Abbott, executive director for transportation for the district, said to ABC News, it states.

The city school district is short some four buses, which has caused delays, late arrivals and the three-per-seat set-up. STA operates more than 16,000 vehicles for over 300 school districts, according to its website, and is “committed to providing our customers with the highest level of safe and reliable transportation solutions available.” The company’s public relations department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Students are required to wear masks on the bus, and they can take brief mask “breaks” if the weather is nice and the windows are open, Benedict said. Many of them have been told by their parents to wear the mask for the duration of the bus trip and not take them off at all, she said.

As for other virus-related measures, Covid testing equipment has been issued to the district by the Genesee County Health Department, Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping said during the board’s Thursday meeting. Students with potential symptoms of the Covid-19 virus can be tested during the day.

The Health Department will notify school officials if anyone does test positive, and contact tracing will begin to track down who the infected person was in contact with prior to being tested, he said, “and making the determination if a quarantine is necessary.” The total quarantine would be for 10 days, minus any days already lapsed before diagnosing the Covid case, he said.

Having access to on-site testing and wearing masks are two methods to maintaining a healthy environment, he said.

“Our families want our kids in school as much as possible,” he said.

The next board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 21 in Batavia High School library, 260 State St.

A related Q&A was posted Thursday on the district’s website to clarify its protocols for Covid-19 guidelines. That is shown below:

SEP 16, 2021

Dear BCSD Parents and Guardians, 

Over the last few days, we’ve received a few questions from parents about protocols regarding our COVID-19 guidelines that we want to clarify for the larger community.

We appreciate the questions and will continue to update you as they arise.  

Q: Are there outbreaks of the virus in our buildings? 

A: While cases of the virus have been reported to us by the Genesee County Health Department, only a small number of those cases resulted from a spread within our buildings. Most reported cases are due to a spread of the virus outside of school, and families have taken the necessary steps to quarantine. While this situation could change, we will report any significant issues directly to families.

In an effort to provide transparent information on COVID-19 cases reported throughout the Batavia City School District, going forward, each Monday, we will be posting the number of positive student and staff cases reported from the previous week on our website: BataviaCSD.org.

Q: How will families be made aware of cases within the schools?

A: We are working in collaboration with the Genesee County Health Department who is providing guidance when there is a positive case in any of our district buildings. 

Once a positive case is identified, the Health Department determines who that child or staff member has been in contact with. From there, Health Department officials determine what action is warranted (i.e., testing, quarantine, etc.).

You will be contacted directly by the Health Department if your child was in contact with another person who has tested positive, and they will work with you to determine the next steps.

Q: Are there three students per seat on our buses?

A: Yes, there are three students per seat on our Jackson and John Kennedy bus runs in many cases. While we would have preferred to have enough buses to have separate bus runs for each building with fewer students on each bus, our transportation contractor has been unable to provide the necessary buses due to the nationwide bus driver shortage.

Q: What are you doing to try to get more buses?

A: We will continue to work with our busing contractor STA to find more opportunities to increase the number of buses servicing our district, including using subcontractors. But as of today, we don’t have a solution in place. 

Q: Is it true that students are allowed to take mask breaks on buses?

A: We have advised our bus drivers to allow students to take brief mask breaks – especially on hot days. These breaks are permitted (but not required) to avoid students getting overheated. Weather permitting, we are also opening our bus windows. 

As a parent, you can certainly advise your child not to remove their mask during these breaks.

As a reminder, if a student or staff member exhibits any COVID symptoms, they should not report to school that day and should contact the building nurse immediately. 

Please reach out to your child’s principal if you have any additional questions or concerns. 

Sincerely, 

Scott Bischoping

Interim Superintendent  

September 15, 2021 - 1:04pm
posted by Press Release in Genesee County Jail, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press Release:

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr. announces that inmate visitation resumes at the Genesee County Jail effective today. 

September 11, 2021 - 10:02am
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, ny-17, Chris Jacobs.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) released the following statement regarding President Biden’s announcement of vaccine mandates. 

“We have come a long way from the beginning of Operation Warp Speed to now over 75% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose. I believe the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and I encourage my constituents to consult their doctor about getting vaccinated – this a personal medical decision that should be made between a citizen and their physician. I am opposed to the President’s mandates and believe he has overstepped his authority in announcing them. In addition, I disagree with the President pitting vaccinated Americans against their unvaccinated peers. This serves no public health interest and only further divides an already fractured nation. 

September 10, 2021 - 8:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, news, 139th assembly district, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is joining his colleagues in the Assembly Minority calling on Governor Hochul and Health Commissioner Zucker to reverse the decision to mandate vaccination of healthcare workers. They argue that any public health benefit a mandate would provide would be outweighed by the detriment such a requirement would have on staffing levels within hospitals and health centers, as 20-25% of health workers within New York are unvaccinated. Hawley asserts that rather than implementing this mandate and potentially losing nearly a quarter of the state’s healthcare staff, an option for frequent and regular testing for unvaccinated people should be offered and access to effective PPE such as N95 masks should be increased.

Hawley is also concerned about how the mandate will affect people who either cannot be vaccinated due to their medical circumstances, and those who work remotely like coders and transcriptionists who do not come into contact with patients.

“Losing even a fraction of our medical personnel in this time of need would have a catastrophic effect on our efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and to think we could lose a quarter or a fifth of our already-overburdened healthcare workers is incredibly troubling,” said Hawley. “We need to be pragmatic about how we fight this virus, and while I encourage anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine and believe it’s safe and effective, forcing nurses, doctors, and other health staff who have worked tirelessly throughout these last many months to choose between taking a vaccine or losing their jobs is not going to convince any skeptics that efforts to increase vaccine rates are well-intended.”

September 5, 2021 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in social media, Health Care, covid-19, coronavirus, news.

More than 40 health care organizations along with 40 physicians from throughout Western New York have issued a statement calling on area residents to ignore social media misinformation about COVID-19 treatment and prevention and asking them to follow the recommendations of doctors and scientists. 

Among the organizations: Erie County Medical Center, Veterans Affairs, Kaleida Health, Horizon Health, Lake Plains Community Care, and Independent Health.  

Among the physicians signing the letter is Dr. Michael Merrill, former chief medical officer at UMMC and currently an executive with Independent Health. 

To view the document with the statement and a list of all the supporters of the statement, click here (pdf).

Statement:

These organizations and the individuals signing below say the following message is correct and reliable. Social media posts may be incorrect. Find reliable, science- based information sources, such as the CDC.

We are experiencing a high number of COVID-19 cases in the region. You should wear a mask in indoor public places, even if you are fully vaccinated. Please wear a mask in outdoor settings if it is crowded or you expect close contact with others.

Wearing a mask will protect you. It will protect people around you. And the more people who do it, the more we protect the community. This is similar to littering. If one person litters, no one notices the impact. If many people litter, it creates a problem for everyone.

The risks of the vaccine are far lower than the risks of COVID-19. Please get a vaccine. Even if you are healthy, it is best not to get the COVID-19 infection, because you can spread it to vulnerable people without knowing.

92% of recent COVID-19 deaths in Erie County are in people who are not fully vaccinated.
There is evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are SAFE during pregnancy. Infection with the COVID-19 virus during pregnancy can cause poor outcomes for moms and newborns. One study showed if a mother gives birth while infected with COVID-19, they have a 5 times elevated risk of dying.

There is NO evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility. However, the COVID-19 infection CAN affect future fertility. You are not protected by your racial, ethnic or age group. COVID-19 is not like influenza. It is 10 times more fatal.

Why get a COVID-19 vaccine if we still have to wear masks and practice social distancing? We must use every tool available to control the pandemic. Each tool contributes toward “flattening the curve” and reducing, for example, the number of critically ill patients.

Why should I get the vaccine when people who are vaccinated can still get COVID-19? The COVID-19 vaccines were designed to prevent serious infection, hospitalization, and death. All of the current US vaccines provide very strong protection against all of these outcomes, with protection against hospitalization and death greater than 90%. Most vaccinated people who do get COVID have either no symptoms or very mild symptoms and are much less likely to be hospitalized or die.

How do we know the vaccines are safe in the long term? In the history of vaccine research, most vaccine side effects appear within a few weeks and almost all appear within six months. We now have data for well beyond six months for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccines, and it continues to show they are extremely safe. More than 360 million doses have been given in the US. At no point were shortcuts taken or safety compromised.

September 4, 2021 - 9:10am

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is saddened to announce that his annual Patriot Trip in which he brings veterans to landmarks and historical sites throughout the Washington, D.C. area will be canceled this year due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, especially as new variant cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals continue to increase. All participants who have signed up for the trip will be fully refunded for anything paid toward it.

“Having to cancel a trip that means so much to veterans, their families, and I was an incredibly difficult decision, but ultimately the well-being of veterans and their families has to be our top priority,” said Hawley. “Amidst the spread of COVID-19, it is also very difficult to know for certain that planned destinations will be reasonably accessible. Ultimately, however, the thought of even a single veteran or one of their loved ones falling seriously ill is what caused me to have to make this difficult decision because their well-being is more important than any event.”

September 2, 2021 - 8:53am

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is standing firmly opposed to legislation being taken up today in a special session of the New York State Assembly that would extend the moratorium on evictions in the state into 2022. Hawley has expressed frustration that this moratorium has been extended multiple times, even as the state government sits on the vast majority of $2.6 billion in federal funding meant to address the issue, having distributed only 10 percent of those funds to tenants and landlords in need.

“If we do not do something to help our small landlords in this crucial moment, they may well go extinct within the housing market if forced to sell their property to large conglomerates to escape crushing debts which they cannot collect rent to pay,” said Hawley. 

“More often than not small landlords are retired people with families to feed, tax and mortgage bills to pay, and properties that take time, money, and hard work to maintain. To think we would ask them to continue to absorb the brunt of this housing crisis after holding on for roughly a year and a half now is absurd, especially when incompetency in our executive branch has kept money out of the pockets of the tenants and landlords that truly need it. Had we acted with any reasonable speed or efficacy in distributing the federal assistance that’s been sat on since January, we would not need to be debating this matter now.”

August 31, 2021 - 3:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, covid-19, Genesee County Health Department.

Now that a statewide universal masking mandate is in place for all persons in school buildings, a requirement that all teachers and staff be fully vaccinated could be next.

Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, this afternoon said he has heard that Gov. Kathy Hochul is advocating for that to happen, just as she did in instructing the New York State Department of Health to issue the mask mandate -- even after many school districts had developed their own reopening plans based on information that there would be no state guidance.

"The governor is exploring working on requirements for teachers and staff to become vaccinated, or provide and submit to weekly testing that is not in place currently – although we do know that it is one of her initiatives and desires to do that if she does end up with the authority to make that happen," Pettit said on the Zoom call.

To prepare for this situation, Pettit said the local health department is working with schools on testing.

"We do have funds to provide testing supplies to the schools so we’re in the process of getting that to them so they will have that available in their schools for staff or students to provide that onsite," he said.

Pettit admitted that the changing directives pertaining to masks in schools over the past three weeks "has been confusing, and frankly, a ittle frustrating, especially for our superintendents who have really worked hard in the lack of overall state guidance to come up with local plans that accommodated for CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines but also took into account the variance and differences from district to district."

He said his recommendation to superintendents -- who he meets with on a regular basis -- was to use CDC guidance as a blueprint to develop their plans "but ultimately the final decisions on what to include and how it was going to look in every school district was, obviously, we were leaving it up to the local district."

"Some districts already came out with their plans prior to the masking mandate," he noted. "Some we’re waiting to see what happened with the new governor coming in. But, either way, now we do have a new statewide mandate for universal masking which has been put in place by Governor Hochul."

Despite the change of direction, Pettit said the "collective goal all along" for everyone involved was to have all students return to in-person learning this school year ... "and to do it with as few disruptions to that end as possible."

Pettit said the local health department will continue to advocate for local autonomy, something it has been doing throughout the pandemic.

"We’re going to continue to support our schools and the districts as we’re able to," he said, adding that with universal masking in place, the need to quarantine people likely will be reduced. He said CDC guidelines do not require or recommend quarantining exposures to positive cases if both the case and the other contacts were fully masked.

The health director spoke about several other topics related to the coronavirus, as follows:

STATISTICAL INFORMATION

Genesee County:

  • Number of positives is at 5,615, with 77 active cases (15 hospitalized).
  • Recovered: 4,947. Deaths: 124 (per NYS data).
  • Positivity rate is 5.8 percent over the last seven days, with 114 positive tests out of 1,955 who have been tested.

In August, the county has had 253 cases, with 78 of those people fully vaccinated and 175 not fully vaccinated or status unknown. The breakthrough rate is 30.8 percent.

Orleans County:

  • Number of positives is at 3,304 total positives, with 64 active cases (two hospitalized).
  • Recovered: 2,844. Deaths: 83 (since the beginning of the pandemic).
  • Positivity rate: 5.3 percent over the last seven days, with 55 positive tests out of 1,039 who have been tested.

In August, the county has had 199 cases, with 34 of those people fully vaccinated and 165 not fully vaccinated or status unknown. The breakthrough rate is 17.1 percent.

Pettit said as far as the breakthrough cases, the symptoms aren’t severe or asymptomatic, meaning that the vaccine is working.

FOCUS IS ON GETTING PEOPLE VACCINATED

Pettit emphasized that health department personnel's main focus is on the unvaccinated, and encouraged those who haven't taken the vaccine to do so -- especially now that the Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved by the Food & Drug Administration. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still under "emergency use authorization" but are in the process of getting FDA approval.

He said approval for the vaccine to be administered to children 12 and under could happen within the next three months, and that vaccine will be available through the Genesee and Orleans health departments.

People with compromised immune systems or other medical issues will be eligible for a third dose of the vaccine, he said, which also will be available locally.

Concerning booster shots, Pettit said this vaccine will "build up and booster up immunity." Booster shots could be available as soon as Sept. 20, he mentioned, for those who had been fully vaccinated at least six months to eight months prior.

Statistically, in Genesee County 30,078 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine (60.2 percent), with the percentage of those who are fully vaccinated at 53.9. In Orleans County, the numbers are 18,999 (55.4 percent) and 48.6 percent.

OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION

  • Both Genesee and Orleans are classified by the CDC as a "high" level of community transmission, based on a seven-day rolling average. Pettit said most of the state and nation are at that level.
  • He said that expiration dates on vaccination cards or Excelsior Pass aren't etched in stone as they were derived from data compiled at that time. He did recommend a booster shot, but said those not getting one still are considered fully vaccinated.
  • There are no local mandates on masking, but the guidance is to adhered to CDC recommendations to reduce spread as much as possible.
  • Local testing is provided by both counties on a weekly basis, currently one day a week (see link below). He said testing is getting more scarce as the level of vaccination increases.
  • Pettit said the health department is unable to verify the results of home test kits as they aren't being reported to the state system.
  • With flu season around the corner, Pettit advised all to follow public health guidelines -- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; wash your hands frequently; stay six feet away from others; if you're sick, stay home.

IMPORTANT LINKS PERTAINING TO COVID-19

CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html

NYS Department of Education- Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year:
http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/back-school/nysed-health-and-safety-guide-for-the-2021-2022-school-year.pdf

Testing link for both counties:
https://gohealthny.org/covid-19-testing-information/

COVID data is updated on Genesee/Orleans Health Department emergin Issues page on Mondays and Thursdays in the afternoon:
https://gohealthny.org/emerging-issues

Daily (Monday-Friday except Holidays):
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/5f8401b0516247b490934303e3975e49/

NYSDOH Vaccine Tracker:

https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/covid-19-vaccine-tracker

August 25, 2021 - 7:43pm

More than 400 people volunteered at Genesee and Orleans county testing clinics and mass vaccination sites since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those individuals – and any others willing to help – could be called into service again depending upon the force of the virus’ Delta variant.

That was the message shared by Genesee/Orleans Public Health Director Paul Pettit during a noon luncheon today at Genesee Community College in honor of those who gave of their time to support health department staff.

“Bottom line, we’re still in an evolving process here; we’re still in the pandemic,” Pettit said, after reviewing the timeline of the pandemic and providing statistics on the number of COVID cases, testing and vaccination to approximately 200 in attendance. “We’re still taking steps to make sure our communities are protected and make them as safe as they can be.”

Pettit said that all told, Genesee County has had 5,508 cases, with 53 active, while Orleans County has had 3,245 cases, with 49 active.

As far as vaccinations, he said that 59.6 percent of Genesee residents age 12 and over have taken the shot(s) while 55 percent of Orleans residents have done likewise (although both are less than the state average).

He reported that 279 different individuals volunteered at testing clinics or mass vaccination sites in Genesee County and 117 did the same in Orleans County. Another 49 staff members who assisted raised the total to 445 “who have given of their time to help during this pandemic.”

In Genesee, volunteers conducted 6,695 tests in Genesee and another 3,465 in Orleans.

Pettit said volunteers helped with 16,176 doses (either first or second shots) in Genesee County and 10,736 doses in Orleans County.

He received a loud applause when he said that the local volunteers did all the work during the New York State-sponsored site at Genesee Community, and so he took the liberty of adding those 2,500 vaccinations to the Genesee/Orleans total.

“Over 35 percent of those vaccinated in both counties was done by this group (of volunteers),” he proclaimed.

Going forward, he said people in certain health categories will be eligible for a third dose, and booster shots likely will be available in late September.

“Apparently at this point, they’re noticing a decrease in efficacy of the vaccine, … so we will be providing booster shots to anybody who has been fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (and is eight months out from their second shots).

Pettit said cases are climbing back up as the Delta variant takes hold in Genesee and Orleans counties and around the nation.

“We’re spending a lot of time on school re-openings …we’re prepared,” he said. “We have had a lot of opportunity to hone our craft, so to speak.”

August 24, 2021 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Jail, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Due to Covid cases within the Genesee County Jail, Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr. is suspending all inmate visitations effective immediately until further notice. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to inmates’ families and employees.  

August 24, 2021 - 9:14am
posted by Press Release in UMMC, Rochester Regional Health, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Due to the rapid transmission of the Delta variant and increased positive COVID-19 cases, Rochester Regional Health will be re-implementing a stricter visitation policy effectiveWednesday, August 25 at 9 a.m. at the following locations:

  • Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic
  • Newark-Wayne Community Hospital
  • Rochester General Hospital
  • Unity Hospital
  • United Memorial Medical Center
  • Rochester Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Linden Oaks Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Westfall Ambulatory Surgery Center

New York State Department of Health continues to require masks inside healthcare facilities this includes visitors and patients. Visitors must have their temperature checked and be screened for symptoms when entering any of these facilities.

No visitation allowed 

  • COVID-19 positive patients 
  • 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 (see below)

Hospital visitation policy

  • Each COVID negative patient can have one visitor at a time at the bedside 
  • Different visitors can visit the patient throughout the day as long as it is limited to one at a time
  • Visitors must be 12 years of age or older
  • Labor and Delivery (Obstetrics)
    • One visitor at a time
    • One support person (in addition to a visitor) is allowed at the beside at all times
  • Pediatrics
    • Two supports persons and one visitor
    • One visitor in pediatric ED
    • If the patient is COVID positive, one support person and one visitor
  • Patients undergoing ambulatory procedures or surgeries
    • One visitor only for pre-procedure (surgery) and post-procedure (surgery)
  • 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 during hospital-designated visiting hours 
  •  Behavioral Health inpatients
    • There is no change to the current visitation rules for Behavioral Health Inpatients
      • Two visitors during site-specific hours
  • End of life patients (appropriate PPE will be required if the patient is COVID positive):

o   Up to two visitors at the bedside at a time 

o   One support person (in addition to visitors) is allowed at the bedside; clergy are not considered a visitor

o   Social distancing must be maintained

Hospital daily visitation hours 

  • Rochester General Hospital: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Unity Hospital: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic:  12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Newark-Wayne Community Hospital: 12 p.m.  – 8 p.m.
  • United Memorial Medical Center: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. 
  • Behavioral Health Facilities – call specific site for hours
August 21, 2021 - 12:09pm

St. Paul Lutheran School officials have released their 2021-22 safety plan, a multifaceted set of guidelines that addresses masking, wellness, facilities/school operations, and scenarios concerning the coronavirus and illness.

According to the four-page document, the school, located at 31 Washington Ave., Batavia, will follow all guidelines provided by New York State, including the directive of whether or not in-person instruction of distance learning will take place.

The safety plan could change as guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic evolve, officials reported, with any changes to be communicated to families, students and staff immediately.

Key points of the plan are as follows:

MASKING

While masks are not required in classrooms and when proper distancing can be maintained (such as in the lunchroom or chapel), they must be worn by students when they enter the building and are in the hallways.

Families may request that their children wear masks, and all visitors must wear a mask when a distance of 3 feet can’t be maintained.

WELLNESS

Anyone with a temperature of 100 or more, or appearing ill, will have to leave the school, and must stay home until they are free of a fever for 24 hours without medication, receive a negative COVID test result and/or approved by a health care provider.

Additionally, anyone who is sick must stay home; handwashing will be required throughout the day, and students must have a personal, refillable water bottle. Hand sanitizer will be in each classrooms and gloves will be supplied to teachers.

FACILITIES/SCHOOL OPERATIONS

Maintenance personnel will clean and disinfect the building, classrooms and bathrooms on a daily basis, and desks will be arranged to accommodate for social distancing.

Sharing of items will be limited, with class birthday treats or food for activities needing to be commercially packaged. Field trips are postponed until further notice.

All bathrooms will be one-person use only, and stairways will be one-directional only.

CORONAVIRUS, ILLNESS

The school will follow recommendations of the Genesee County Health Department in the event of positive tests for COVID for students, staff and family members, which include notification of families, staff and health department personnel while maintain confidentiality.

Should a student get sick during the school day (cough, fever, etc.), he or she will be removed from the class, have his or her temperature taken, and be required to wear a mask while waiting for transportation (other than the bus) home.

In the event of a school closure, distance learning will take place, under conditions described in the document (see link to the safety plan in the third paragraph of this story).

August 20, 2021 - 10:18pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

“Both Genesee and Orleans Counties are now in a high level of community transmission according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view),” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).  “Genesee and Orleans Counties are currently at 99 active cases.  We are also reporting eleven hospitalizations between the two counties, with eight in Genesee and three in Orleans. All of these hospitalizations are community members across the age spectrum and not nursing home residents. The majority are unvaccinated.”

We encourage everyone to follow the public health prevention precautions as noted below.  It is important for those who are not currently vaccinated to talk with their primary care provider to determine whether getting vaccinated is right for them.  “The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 or health complications from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.  The vaccine is proven to be safe and effective,” stated Pettit. 

Per the CDC recommendations for communities with the high spread of COVID-19, we encourage everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to wear masks when indoors in public and when at crowded outdoor settings.

  • Everyone should continue practicing the following public health prevention precautions: 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • If water is not readily available, use hand sanitizer. 
  • Wash and sanitize frequently shared/touched items.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wear a face mask indoors in public and crowded outdoor settings. 
  • Monitor your health daily and stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms.
  • Get tested if you are experiencing symptoms and self-isolate until you get your results back. If you test positive for COVID, you are to isolate for 10 days. 

For up to date data, GO Health updates the Emerging Issues page of the website (https://gohealthny.org/emerging-issues/) on Mondays and Thursdays and posts the data on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (GOHealthNY is the user name for each of these platforms). 

The Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming County Health Departments COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Tracker is updated daily (https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/5f8401b0516247b490934303e3975e49/)

August 20, 2021 - 10:09pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, Chris Jacobs, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) released the following statement after the Biden administration announced yet another extension of the U.S. – Canadian border restrictions until at least September 21st, 2021.

“Extending the closure of the U.S. – Canada border again without answers demonstrates the sheer inability of this administration to adequately plan or provide transparent answers to the American people. Our shared border should have been open months ago. This administration’s failure to do so has forced our small businesses to suffer economically from another missed tourism season, and more heartbreaking, they have prolonged the suffering of thousands of families. 

“Enough is enough. The President needs to stop passing the buck and reopen the U.S. – Canada border immediately.

The Department of Homeland Security extended the current restrictions on land travel from Canada to the United States until September 21st, 2021. The border has been closed to nonessential travel since March 2020. On August 9th, 2021 Canada began allowing fully vaccinated Americans into the country. 

Jacobs introduced the Northern Border Reopening Transparency Act in June to force the Biden administration to provide answers to Congress and the American people on its efforts to reopen the U.S. – Canada border.
 

August 16, 2021 - 6:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

Both Genesee and Orleans Counties have increased to a substantial and high levels of community transmission, respectively, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view),” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).  “As noted last week, we are not surprised in this increase in transmission data.  We are saddened to report the COVID-related death of a Genesee County resident who was under the age of 65.  To protect the privacy of the family we will not release any further information about the individual.  Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of this person.”

We continue to encourage everyone to follow the public health prevention precautions as noted below.  It is important for those who are not currently vaccinated to talk with their primary care provider to determine whether getting vaccinated is right for them.  

There are currently no masking mandates that have been issued by either county, however, per the CDC recommendations for communities with substantial or high spread of COVID-19 we encourage everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to wear masks when indoors in public and when at crowded outdoor settings.

Everyone should continue practicing the following public health prevention precautions: 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • If water is not readily available, use hand sanitizer. 
  • Wash and sanitize frequently shared/touched items.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wear a face mask indoors in public and crowded outdoor settings. 
  • Monitor your health daily and stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms.

Get tested if you are experiencing symptoms and self-isolate until you get your results back. If you test positive for COVID, you are to isolate for 10 days. 

“The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 or health complications from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” stated Pettit. “Now is the best time to take advantage of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 before the new school term starts and the weather changes and we start moving back indoors”.   

For up to date data, GO Health updates the Emerging Issues page of the website (https://gohealthny.org/emerging-issues/) on Mondays and Thursdays and posts the data on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (GOHealthNY is the user name for each of these platforms) and the Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming County Health Departments COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Tracker are updated daily (https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/5f8401b0516247b490934303e3975e49/).

For those who are using home testing kits, please note that the Health Departments are unable to verify the results and will not be able to provide paperwork for your employer/insurance company.  Home tests that need verification will have to complete a follow-up test with an approved provider for documentation and state reporting purposes.  If you do either a home test or a test at approved provider, it is important to remember to self-isolate until you receive test results.  For home testing, you are to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from onset of symptoms or getting your test result.  Contact your primary care physician for further instructions.

 

August 12, 2021 - 5:30pm

Eighteen months and still no signs of slowing down.

Public Health Director Paul Pettit and his staff at the Genesee & Orleans Health Departments have worked tirelessly since February of 2020 to educate, test and vaccinate residents dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic that seemingly just won’t go away.

The Batavian spent about 15 minutes on the phone with Pettit this afternoon, picking his brain about the increase in cases, the Delta variant, community spread categories, face coverings, booster shots and natural immunity.

Q. With the number of cases increasing, do you plan to release information on a daily basis as was the case last year?

A. We’re discussing that; it is readily available as anybody can go to our website (www.gohealthny.org) and/or the dashboards to get all of the current data. We probably will be moving back to reporting at least once a week on the numbers.

We’re in the process of discussing that component of it. We have seen our numbers definitely pick up over the last eight to 10 days compared to where we were in July.

Q. When you talk about numbers, is it the same virus or is it the Delta variant? It seems like there is confusion over what people are coming down with now.

A. The reality is that every time you have a COVID test, there’s not a serotype done to see what strain of the virus it is. So, a lot of times we don’t have that level of detail. The state’s Wadsworth Lab in Albany does do that level of detail – they’ve been doing surveillance sampling of random samples from around the state and they’re also in the process of opening additional labs that will be able to do that. I believe the University of Rochester and one of the labs in Erie County are going to be able to do that.

It’s pretty much understood to be the Delta variant the way the cases are picking up. Samples that have been identified in the region are primarily Delta. It is presumed that it is the Delta strain by the way the numbers are picking up so quickly, but we don’t have the ability locally to analyze every sample.

Q. Do you think there will be some guidance out of Albany – either from the new governor coming in (Kathy Hochul) or from the New York State Department of Health?

A. We haven’t heard any updates on that beyond what the lieutenant governor commented on yesterday that she plans to meet with all of the cabinet members … ultimately it will be her decision on what direction they want to go with that.

(Since this interview, Hochul has announced that she wants students and staff to wear masks when school opens up next month. “My view is that people — children and everyone in the school environment — will be wearing masks,” Hochul said).

We’re going to continue locally to deal with cases through isolations and quarantines, and working in the community to keep the numbers down as best as we can.

Q. It seems like the categories that indicate the level of cases have changed. What are the actual categories now and how are they defined?

A. There’s low, moderate, substantial and high; four buckets basically that the CDC is using to essentially categorize community transmission of COVID. So, moderate is greater than 10 cases per 100,000 per week; substantial is greater or equal to 50 cases per 100,000 per week, and then high is greater than or equal to 100 cases per 100,000 per week.

From 10 to 50 is a pretty big jump, right, but then when you get to substantial, you have to double your weekly count of cases to get to high.

Q. Is it true that Genesee County currently is in the moderate range?

A. We have been in the moderate category but the numbers that we have seen over the past four to five days, averaging from seven to 10 cases per day, if those numbers continue over the seven-day period – which the CDC uses as their window – we’re definitely on the edge of potentially going to substantial.

Per the CDC guidelines, once an area is designated or classified by their chart as substantial spread, that’s when they would start to recommend that people consider masking indoors – vaccinated or unvaccinated – especially if you have certain underlying health conditions or are at high risk, so to speak.

It’s not a mandate – there are no local mandates – and, obviously, the state has not put out any mandates because the executive order/state of emergency has lapsed, but it is recommended due to the amount of spread that is occurring.

Q. How effective do you feel are the masks that people are wearing, especially considering the different types of materials the masks are made of?

A. We’ve talked about the mask question all along, from day one … we’ve heard that you should mask and that you shouldn’t mask from the federal side.

What we do know is that masks are effective in certain settings in reducing risk. People are not wearing, in most cases, N-95 – those are the gold standard masks in stopping viruses and bacteria, etc. But when it comes to what people are wearing in the community, you see many different types of masks.

Your medical surgical masks are probably the most effective outside of the N-95 because they are used in clinical, healthcare settings, and then you have cloth and buffs and all different kinds of barriers that people have created to try to meet the face covering requirements.

It’s a spectrum of how much protection they will provide depending upon the type of material of the masks. I will say that any type of barrier is going to provide some type of protection; depending on which one, more or less, and depending upon how it is worn. There are a lot of variables.

Is it foolproof, that if you wear a mask, you’re not going to get COVID? No. In the general setting, masks are a tool to try to reduce risk of getting the disease. The recommendation is that if you put it on, you’re protecting yourself and potentially others if you have COVID, and providing a layer of risk protection.

Q. Do you agree with Dr. Fauci that everyone will need a booster shot down the road?

A. The boosters are being studied on the federal level by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), looking at the effectiveness of the current vaccines that we have out there. What we do know is that the vaccines are safe and effective; they’ve done a very good job of preventing illness and preventing disease in those who are fully vaccinated.

We have seen that there are some breakthrough cases occurring and the efficacy of all three vaccines is a little bit lower with the Delta variant than what it was with the original variant of COVID that we were dealing with since the beginning of the pandemic.

With that being said, they’re still very effective. Even with any of the breakthrough cases we are seeing, these folks have had very mild symptoms or asymptomatic, and none of them have gone to the hospital and none of them, obviously, have passed. We know the vaccines are working; they’re keeping people from getting sick. They may get COVID but they’re not getting sick.

As new variants come along, we need to give folks or encourage them to get a booster shot to match up better with the new strain and boost the antibodies and protection they may have. I think there will be a need for a booster shot at some point.

Q. What about people who have had COVID? Don’t they already have natural immunity, and do they need to be vaccinated?

A. Obviously, when you have a disease you develop natural antibodies, so there is some level of protection. But, again, what the data is showing is that those who have had COVID, their antibodies are not as high as they are when you get the vaccine. The recommendation still is that you get vaccinated even if you have had COVID.

The vaccine efficacy gives you better protection from re-infection than just having natural antibodies.

August 11, 2021 - 3:18pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (R-NY) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) led a bicameral letter with 29 members of Congress to President Biden calling for the administration to change course and end its unconstitutional eviction moratorium. 
“We strongly oppose the Biden administration’s latest eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This latest action is plainly unconstitutional and will only serve to further distort the market and create a housing affordability crisis,” the lawmakers said. “Additionally, any further restrictions on evictions at this point are counterproductive. The economy is open, jobs and vaccines are abundant, and federal rental assistance is a reality.”

In a recent Supreme Court case, Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services, five members of the Supreme Court effectively acknowledged that CDC exceeded its authority in issuing the moratorium. Justice Kavanaugh stated that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.” 

“Instead of pursuing an unconstitutional moratorium, the Biden administration should be focused on distributing the nearly $50 billion in rental assistance that was appropriated through three separate stimulus packages.” the lawmakers said. “As long this moratorium remains in place, property owners will continue to struggle financially. These property owners must still pay mortgages, taxes, and maintenance for the dwelling. If this continues much longer, we will see a wave of bankruptcies, foreclosures, and blighted properties.”

Most states require the tenant to take the initiative when applying for rental assistance. A recent Treasury report found very little of the federal rental assistance money has been disbursed so far, and the new moratorium will act as an additional disincentive for tenants to apply for this aid, leaving property owners on the hook. 

“We demand the Biden administration end this moratorium and allow the rental assistance funds to do what they were intended to do. This government overreach must end,” the lawmakers said.

Full text of the letter can be found here

August 10, 2021 - 7:13am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county legislature, covid-19, CARES Act.

With leadership at the Executive Mansion in Albany in disarray, local governments are being forced to take on greater responsibility in the decision-making process as COVID-19 rears its ugly head once more.

Noting that New York State is backing off on mandates and guidelines, Genesee County officials are banding together with administrators from neighboring counties to figure out the best course of action as the number of cases increase and with the reopening of schools just a few weeks away.

“There is no state policy; everybody is on their own,” said Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein during Monday afternoon’s special legislative meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “What we do now – our behavior is really going to matter.”

County Manager Matt Landers told legislators that county managers have restarted discussions on how to handle what he called “a changing landscape.”

“We will not be under the state umbrella where there was a facilitator,” Landers said. “We had our first official meeting today after a long break and we decided to make this a weekly meeting because of the nature of how things are changing.”

He emphasized that public health directors will be included in the talks – “a good step,” he said -- because last time county administrators and public health directors conducted separate meetings.

VACCINATED? THEN NO MASK

Landers said his group is looking at the various county and school policies when it comes to the wearing of face coverings.

“A couple of counties have gone the route of mandating masks for their workforce, regardless of vaccination status. We haven’t gone that route at this point, and I wouldn’t recommend that route as necessary,” he said.

Genesee County employees do not have to wear a mask if they are vaccinated, he said, but need to show proof of vaccination to do so.

He said that Legislature Clerk Pamela LaGrou came up with that idea, and it was applauded by leaders in other counties.

Unvaccinated county employees are required to wear face coverings, however.

“Here, we’re not going to ask vaccination status of any of our workforce, but if you want to take the mask off at work, you have to provide proof of vaccination to your department head,” he said. “So, we have high confidence right now in the county workforce that if you see a county employee with his or her mask off, they have shown that proof. And because of that, we won’t have to rush to have any mask mandate for all of our workers anytime soon.”

FOLLOWING CDC GUIDANCE

Landers said that an interim step before mandating face coverings could be distancing county workers from the public.

“But we’re not there yet either,” he said, “because our transmission level is still low. Still, it’s something we have to start thinking about now. It’s unfortunate that we have to do this (again), but I like the spirit that everyone has in wanting to make sure that we’re being consistent and cooperating.”

Public Health Director Paul Pettit is in constant contact with school district officials, Landers said, with the goal of reaching a point where all schools draft similar guidelines when classes resume.

“There’s no universal set policy (for schools) yet; I think there’s an attempt,” Landers said. “We’re taking the position that we recommend following CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines; in good conscience, we can’t deviate from recommending CDC guidelines. But each of the schools is going to make its own decision.”

GENESEE AT ‘MODERATE’ LEVEL

Genesee County has 25 active cases as of Monday, Landers said. Eleven of them occurred over the weekend, but no one is hospitalized.

He said Genesee is in the “moderate” category and just about to go into “substantial,” which is 28 cases a week on average. The “high” level is 57 cases.

The county manager said that about 20 to 30 percent of the positive cases are vaccinated people, adding that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is “a little less effective” than the Moderna or Pfizer doses.

He said he’s not sure of the percentage of county employees who have been vaccinated, but estimated it around 70 percent – which is higher than the Genesee County number of 59 percent.

The county’s Facebook page has been getting significant hits as the public searches for current information about the coronavirus, Landers said, adding that a press conference is being set up for next week for the sharing of more data.

YUNKER: MUST BE PROACTIVE

In the meantime, he said the county will continue to test and vaccinate.

“… and if the demand is out there, we will increase the testing days and vaccination," he added.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg mentioned that if school guidelines remain the same as before, more testing will be in order.

Landers said federal funding from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act will enable the county to place at least one Abbott rapid antigen test machine in each school to quickly test students and to provide BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Cards for asymptomatic testing.

Legislator Christian Yunker urged the county brace for another wave.

“We should probably be prepared to deal with another stint of rising cases,” he said. “It’s probably going to happen, so however we can be proactive to curb in those problems (the better off we’ll be).”  

August 9, 2021 - 5:03pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

“According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view) Orleans County has increased to substantial level of community transmission,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).  “Genesee County is currently maintaining a moderate level of transmission for COVID-19.  This is not surprising as Niagara, Erie, and Monroe Counties are all considered to be at the substantial level of transmission.”

“We continue to monitor the data and update the Genesee – Orleans – Wyoming COVID Case Tracker map daily (https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/5f8401b0516247b490934303e3975e49/),” stated Pettit. 

Although we are not sending daily data updates to the media, the GO Health website is updated on Monday’s and Thursday’s with COVID-19 data and the public can access this information by visiting our website at www.GOHealthNY.org and clicking on Emerging Issues. 

Both Genesee and Orleans are experiencing an uptick of new cases of COVID-19, including some cases where the individuals are fully vaccinated.  This is not unexpected as we are seeing this across the state and nation.  This is what viruses do. Even for those who are fully vaccinated there is a chance the individual may become infected with COVID-19, especially due to the high transmission rate of the Delta Variant.  Although being fully vaccinated may not completely protect someone from getting COVID-19, the vast majority of those who have been fully vaccinated and have become infected had little or no symptoms or serious complications.

It is important for everyone who is not vaccinated and eligible, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccination is free and clinics are held weekly at each of the health departments (visit: https://bit.ly/GOHealthCOVID for updated clinics and locations). Pharmacies and health care providers also provide the COVID-19 vaccine and you can visit (www.vaccines.gov) for a location near you. If anyone has concerns about whether or not the vaccine is right for them, we encourage them to talk to their primary care provider.  

Per the CDC recommendations for communities with substantial or high spread of COVID-19 we encourage everyone to continue, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to continue practicing the following public health prevention precautions: 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • If water is not readily available, use hand sanitizer. 
  • Wash and sanitize frequently shared/touched items.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wear a face mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. 
  • Monitor your health daily and stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms.
  • Get tested if you are experiencing symptoms and self-isolate until you get your results back. If you test positive for COVID, you are to isolate for 10 days. 

“The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 or health complications from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” stated Pettit. “Now is the best time to take advantage of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 before the new school term starts and the weather changes and we start moving back indoors”.   

August 2, 2021 - 1:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19.
Event Date and Time: 
August 11, 2021 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

GO Health Departments will be on the road with Back-to-School Pop-up Clinics the week of August 9th across Genesee and Orleans Counties.  The Pfizer vaccine will be offered at the clinics, which is approved for everyone 12 years of age and older.  COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective.   

“The Back-to-School Pop-up Vaccine Clinics are a great way for our youth and young adults 12 years of age and older to conveniently get the vaccine before school starts,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. 

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