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COVID-19

January 21, 2022 - 7:11pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, batavia.

Press Release:

The Town of Batavia will be distributing free COVID test kits on Monday, January 24, 2022. The distribution will be from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at the Batavia Town Hall DRIVE-UP WINDOW. There are 110 available test kits, with two tests per kit. Those attending must be a Genesee County resident and may take up to two kits per household, while supplies last. Must provide proof of residency.

January 13, 2022 - 11:31pm
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Of all the debatable data out there regarding COVID-19, one piece about local hospitalizations is irrefutable, Dan Ireland says.

United Memorial Medical Center’s occupancy rate is at 86 percent, and 100 percent of patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit have been unvaccinated, said Ireland, Rochester Regional Health/UMMC president, during a live-streamed health discussion Thursday. 

“Seventy-five percent of COVID admissions are unvaccinated people,” he said. “The data is clear, unvaccinated folks are suffering (from COVID symptoms and illness).”

Another statistic to note is that 100 percent of people put on ventilators were also unvaccinated, he said. Though there are various other reasons for someone being admitted to the hospital, 70 percent of them went to the hospital for COVID-19 symptoms and concerns, he said.  It was a set of coronavirus symptoms that drove them to visit the hospital, he said. 

Although some vaccinated people are experiencing break-through cases, the symptoms have not been as severe, he and Genesee and Orleans County Health Director Paul Pettit said. 

“Please, please, please get your vaccine,” Ireland said. 

Not only is that step important for protecting the health of individuals and families, it helps to free up space at the hospital, he said, citing 36 percent of the entire hospital population is attributed to COVID-19. People are still seeking health care treatments for other causes, and it’s “our job to strike that balance” between the needs of those with the COVID virus and more traditional healthcare that is needed.

Those traditional healthcare services remain open at RRH hospitals, which include elective surgeries. Those surgeries held a 90 percent occupancy rate in 
December. Ireland said that, more recently, those surgeries will still occur, but on “a much more limited basis.”

“Surgery is not closed, we’re just limiting it to limit the exposure to patients,” he said. 

The whole region is focused on restricting elective surgeries to essential only, per health department guidelines, he said, however, facilities in nearby counties have taken patients when necessary. 

There will be public announcements to inform the community of changes that may occur, such as particular hospital offices needing to close due to staffing shortages or exposure concerns, and where patients may be able to go instead. Overall, hospital staff “has done an amazing job at accommodating them at other locations,” Ireland said. 

As of Tuesday, a new visitor policy restricts hours for a 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. daily visitor schedule. Everyone will be screened, information is to be captured for potential contact tracing and visitors cannot see patients with COVID-19 or other immunity compromised patients. 

“Just be aware, if you have a loved one in the hospital, if a screener advises you of a new policy, it’s because of updated responses.”

As for those colorful and rhinestone-covered cloth masks, the latest data shows, especially in the light of the recent spread of the SARS-2-CoV variant known as Omicron, that they are not as effective as medical masks. The Hospital administration has issued a “no cloth masks” order in lieu of medical, tighter-fitting masks, such as KN95. Hospital visitors without such masks will be given one by staff, he said.

“It’s very important to protect yourself; wearing that mask is a barrier. Is it full-proof? No. But we do know it’s a barrier (to the virus),” he said. 

Ireland said that, of course, people want to get out and enjoy activities away from their homes. They can do that, but there are tools in place to protect people to have fun “safely and effectively,” he said. 

“Have some self-awareness and some self-driven compliance,” he said of wearing masks, testing when necessary, and isolating and/or quarantining if positive for the virus or exposed to someone else who is positive. Journalists participating in the event asked about the safety of student-athletes, the target number for vaccinations, and the future. 

Student-athletes are being tested based on the same protocols as other students, Pettit said.

New York State set a target vaccination rate of 70 percent, and “we’re above that number now as a whole,” he said. People who are most recently getting the vaccine seem to be doing so based on external events, such as a family member getting sick or dying from COVID-19, or mandates requiring a vaccine for certain types of travel, he said. 

And for those on the fence? His department staff is working to answer questions and provide information to anyone not yet vaccinated. 

“We’re really trying to talk to those folks who are undecided,” he said. ”Based on the data, the vaccine is very effective; it does keep people from having the severity of the disease, and it keeps them out of the ICU and off ventilators. We’re hoping these folks will make the decision at some point in the very near future.”

Genesee County has experienced a “very sharp increase” in positive cases, especially in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, he said. There have been a total of 12,105 positive cases and 164 deaths from the COVID-19 virus since the onset of the pandemic. Out of that number, 1,509 cases were in the month of December compared to 2,118 in just the first 10 days of January, he said. 

He wanted to clarify case investigations, which are conducted for confirmed cases by obtaining the person’s name, address, symptoms, date of onset, close contacts and that person’s history during the prior 48 hours, versus contact tracing, which takes the process “a little bit further” by trying to identify people who were exposed to a confirmed case of the virus and establish if those people are isolating (if found to also be positive) or quarantining due to being exposed to the person found to be positive. 

Case investigations are not changing, he said. However, due to the massive numbers of positive cases multiplied each by an estimated five to 10 exposures, it’s likely the health department may not be able to follow up on all of those cases, he said.

Genesee County Legislator Rochelle Stein reminded folks that everyone can take a part in keeping the community safe.

“Vaccinate and get the booster when you are eligible, she said. “Mask when in public places, test when you feel ill, and then stay home. These are the simple ones today.”

For further information, watch the video and/or go to GOHealthNY.org

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

January 11, 2022 - 11:12pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, COVID-19.

Without any discussion, Batavia’s Board of Education unanimously approved a slew of consent items Tuesday evening, including spending more than $400,000 to purchase disinfection devices as one way to combat COVID-19.

The bid of $416,250 from Enviro-mist was a recommendation from the city school’s Building and Grounds Committee, Board President Alice Benedict said. 

“They are the ones who did the investigating, and asked the questions,” she said to The Batavian after the meeting at Batavia High School. “We decided it was something the school district needed.”

After district members conducted research about how to deal with increasing cases of COVID-19, Building and Grounds committee members were given the green light to pursue some type of disinfection equipment, she said. 

The funding for these devices will come from the federal American Relief Act, which was doled out to school districts for various virus-related solutions. The board agreed that Enviro-mist came in with the best bid for air purification and disinfection devices, at $1,665 each for 250 disinfection units, or $416,250. The units purify the air at one unit per 900 square feet, Benedict said. 

The company website touts specialized consultation services that include: 

  • Effective and Safe Re-Opening and Return to Work Plans.
  • Preventive and/or Corrective Disinfecting.
  • Portable or In-Duct Air Purification Systems with knowledge of how best to work with air flow.
  • Micro-Barriers for extended protection of high-touch surfaces.
  • Air Quality Scans, Testing and Monitoring.
  • Industry’s best Air Purifying Equipment Rental for events or gatherings.
  • Post Covid Protocols that prepare for the next superbug, flu, allergy or outbreak.

Other consent items included seven resignations of music, special education and English as a Second Language teachers, teacher aides and a financial records clerk; many appointments of assorted positions, from probationary social worker to clerk typists; and Memorandums of Agreements with Batavia Teachers’ Association, TRIO Upward Bound College Prep Program, Attica Central School District for 6:1:1 services, and with the business administrator, executive director of staff development and operations, and executive director of curriculum and instruction. ( The Batavian will update details as they become available.)

It's that time of year when school boards begin to think about expenses and revenues. In lieu of the past Budget Ambassador program fulfilled by volunteer district residents, board members have signed on to meet for at least three public budget sessions, Benedict said. A lack of interested volunteers rendered the former ambassador group defunct, she said. Board members will conduct Zoom budget meetings so that anyone may attend and ask questions. 

The budget meetings are set for 6 p.m. on March 1, 8 and 15 in the Superintendent’s Conference Room 49 of the district office, 260 State St. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in the BHS library 260 State St.
 

January 10, 2022 - 11:59pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, COVID-19, 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.





 

January 10, 2022 - 3:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in COVID-19, news, live stream.
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January 8, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, COVID-19, Batavia Board of Education.

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  

January 7, 2022 - 6:45pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, Genesee and Orleans counties, health.

Press Release;

“Due to the high volume of COVID-19 case reports in recent days exceeding the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) and NYS contact tracing capacity to individually contact every Genesee and Orleans County resident with a positive COVID-19 test result GO Health and New York State are making some adjustments,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

New York State Department of Health has also announced that beginning next week changes will be implemented to case investigation and contact tracing. Please be advised this guidance may change. “The surge in positive COVID-19 cases brought on by the Omicron variant, the availability of home testing and the need to prioritize our resources has led us to make significant changes in our COVID-19 response, including suspending contact tracing for the general population ages 19-64. For those in schools or congregate settings, who are under the age of 18 and over the age of 64, due to the higher risk of spread and severity, contact tracing will continue as capacity allows” stated Pettit. 

Effective Monday, January 10th, residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 OR have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to visit 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 by e-mail 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 in the 19-64 age group, who test positive you should no longer expect to receive a call from the local health department, nor do you need to call the local health department. Please follow the general directions that NYS provides for isolation and quarantine and contact your healthcare provider for medical advice.

New Protocol for Genesee and Orleans CountiesIf you are in need of isolation, quarantine or release documents, they are available on the GO Health website. Complete the form(s) and print it out for your employer or school.

Isolation (for those who test positive for COVID-19)

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 release are also included on the GOHealthNY.org website for you to complete and provide to your employer/school.

Given the changes announced for case investigation and contact tracing our data collection/reporting will be adjusted. Starting next week, GO Health will be releasing limited data on Wednesdays. For COVID-19 data please visit the NYS site: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-data-new-york.

January 7, 2022 - 5:58pm
posted by Press Release in UMMC, COVID-19, 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

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

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.  

January 7, 2022 - 5:43pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, genesee county, health.

Press Release:

Due to the anticipated high demand for free COVID-19 tests, Genesee County will distribute one test kit per car. Each kit contains two tests. The distribution event is scheduled for Saturday, January 8th from 12-2 pm at the Genesee County Fire Training Center, located at 7690 State Street Rd in Batavia.

County officials stress that there will be more opportunities in the future for the distribution of tests.

There are 2,580 available test kits, with two tests per kit. Attendees will be required to show proof of Genesee County residence in order to receive a kit(s). Should a resident test positive with an at-home rapid test, they are asked to report it here.

Residents can also sign up for an upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive their first dose, booster shot, or a pediatric dose for children age 5-11 here.

 

January 5, 2022 - 2:53pm
posted by Press Release in genesee county, COVID-19, health.

Press Release:

Genesee County, in collaboration with New York State, is holding a COVID-19 rapid testing kit distribution event this Saturday, January 8th at the Genesee County Fire Training Center, located at 7690 State Street Rd in Batavia, from 12-2pm.

There are 2,580 available test kits, with two tests per kit. Those attending may take up to two kits per household, while supplies last.  Attendees will be required to show proof of Genesee County residence in order to receive a kit(s).This will be the first of several upcoming COVID-19 test kit distribution events, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Providing our residents with free COVID-19 test kits, thereby expanding testing county-wide, is an essential component in the fight against COVID-19 and stopping the spread,” said Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein. “We look forward to holding more of these events in the near future, but we remind residents that our best resource for fighting COVID-19 is to get vaccinated as they are proven to be safe and effective.”

Should a resident test positive with an at-home rapid test, they are asked to report it here.

As local schools are distributing test kits for students, Genesee County officials encourage families with students to utilize school resources to ensure people & families without students have access to county and state resources.

Residents can also sign up for an upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive their first dose, booster shot, or a pediatric dose for children age 5-11 here.

January 5, 2022 - 10:36am
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, 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.
January 3, 2022 - 4:04pm
posted by Press Release in Orleans County, COVID-19, health.

Press Release:

New York State has provided Orleans County Emergency Management Office with free at-home COVID-19 test kits to distribute to residents. Starting Thursday, January 6, 2022, each town hall and the Orleans County Office Building will have a limited supply of COVID-19 test kits to distribute to their residents during normal business hours until the kits are gone. Please note all the school districts have received kits for their students and will distribute according to their respective plans. A maximum of 2 kits per family will be distributed at the following locations: Orleans County Office Building: Monday-Friday 9:00-4:30

Town of Yates: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00-4:30

Village of Lyndonville: Monday-Friday 7:30-4:00 Closed Daily 12:30-1:00

Town of Ridgeway: Monday–Friday 9:00-4:30

Village of Medina: Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30

Town of Shelby: Monday–Friday 8:30-4:00

Town of Carlton: Tuesday–Friday 8:30-2:30 / Saturday 9:00-12:00 p.m.

Town of Gaines: Monday-Thursday 10:00-3:30 / Monday Evenings 5:00-7:00

Village of Albion: Monday-Friday 8:00-4:00

Town of Albion: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:30-11:00 and 12:00-3:00

Town of Barre: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:00-3:30

Town of Kendall: Monday-Friday 9:00-3:30 (closed for lunch from noon to 12:45)

Town of Murray: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00-4:00 / Saturday 9:00-12:00 p.m.

Village of Holley: Monday-Friday 8:00-4:00

Town of Clarendon: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 9:00-4:00 / Tuesday 12 noon-6:00 p.m. / Friday 9:00-2:00 / Saturday 10:00-12:00 p.m.

To report a Positive 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 in permanent marker within 15 minutes of reading the test. 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 immediately. 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 one to three days 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.

December 31, 2021 - 6:57pm
posted by Press Release in Governor Hochul, nys, COVID-19, health, plan, news.

Press Release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced Winter Surge Plan 2.0, a new targeted effort to bolster New York's fight against the winter surge. Governor Hochul's comprehensive plan focuses on five core areas: keeping students in school, doubling down on masks and testing, preventing severe illness and death, increasing access to vaccines and boosters, and working together with local leaders. Hours before the New Year begins, Governor Hochul also urged New Yorkers to celebrate New Year's Eve in a safe, responsible way.    

"As we head into the holiday weekend, New York State is mobilizing every resource at our disposal to fight the winter surge and keep New Yorkers safe," Governor Hochul said. "We can get through this surge through targeted actions, partnerships with local leaders, and by taking common sense steps to keep us all safe: get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear a mask indoors."

"We have every tool to keep our families and communities safe," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "We must ensure we use them all. Governor Hochul's targeted plan to expand vaccination and booster access, mask and test, and increase measures to protect our health care workers is the comprehensive strategy needed to combat the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Leveraging these layered mitigation tactics is how we will protect the health of New Yorkers and effectively manage the winter surge." 

1. Keep Schools Open: After two years of remote learning and school closures, Governor Hochul is focused on keeping students in school in the upcoming year. The first plank of Governor Hochul's 5-part plan includes:    

  • Providing tests to students and school districts: 5.56 million tests arrived for schools this week and between six and seven million more are expected to arrive in the coming days. New York has mobilized 40 trucks and 86 state personnel to distribute tests. Overall, New York State has secured 37 million tests for distribution.
  • Working with counties to implement Test-to-Stay: Test-to-Stay policies have proven successful at keeping our kids safe and schools open. If a student tests positive, classmates can take a test kit back home with them and return to the classroom upon receiving a negative result instead of mandatory quarantining. 
  • Keeping college students and faculty safe: SUNY and CUNY will be introducing a new requirement for all students to get boosters, campuses will require mandatory mask wearing in public indoor spaces, and will require all faculty to be vaccinated. Students will also be required to submit negative tests upon returning to campus.

 2. Keep Masking, Keep Testing: Governor Hochul recognizes that to stop the spread of the virus, New Yorkers must continue wearing masks and getting tested for COVID. Governor Hochul will:

  • Extend the mask-or-vax requirement: the Department of Health will extend the mask-or-vaccine requirement for an additional two weeks, protecting workers and allowing businesses to remain open.
  • Make masks more widely available: New York State has already distributed 5 million KN-95 masks, and more will be distributed through state legislators. Hundreds of thousands of masks will also be distributed for nursing home visitors.
  • Launch new testing sites: Governor Hochul will open six new testing sites on January 4, totaling 19 state-run sites statewide. Additionally, Governor Hochul announced the launch of two new testing sites at MTA stations, in addition to previously announced MTA pop-ups.

3. Preventing Severe Illness and Death: With case counts rising, Governor Hochul is making it a priority to prevent severe illness and death by supporting our hospital system. The Winter Surge Plan 2.0 will:    

  • Distribute antiviral treatments: New York is working with the Biden Administration to secure doses of the antiviral drug Pavloxid and make this treatment more widely available.
  • Boost hospital capacity: Governor Hochul will continue enforcing the November 26 Executive Order to boost hospital capacity. Since it took effect, the number of hospitals with limited capacity needing to pause non-essential surgeries has declined from 32 to 21.    
  • Launch National Guard EMT training: to ramp up our long-term health care workforce capacity needs, the Department of Health and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs will be launching two pilot EMT training classes on January 5th. This will cover two classes of 40 service members (80 service members in total) who will be able to be deployed by February.
  • Secure additional help from Federal partners: in the coming days, we will receive federal Department of Defense (DoD) Medical Response and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs). This will include a 35-member DMAT to SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, 23-member DoD Medical Response Team to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, and 50 new ambulance teams deployed to NYC.
  • Protect nursing home residents and workers: the Hochul Administration is in constant contact with all 606 nursing homes in New York and will be providing them with additional PPE to ensure the safety of all patients and staff. Additionally, the Administration is coordinating with hospitals and will be deploying durable medical equipment in continued support of the care for all New Yorkers.

4. Expand Access to Vaccines and Boosters: Vaccines continue to be the best defense against COVID hospitalization and death. While 95% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one shot, there's more to do to increase vaccination and booster rates, especially among children:

  • Provide boosters to nursing homes: New York will begin requiring each nursing home to demonstrate their plan to increase vaccination and booster rates among their residents.    
  • Increase pediatric vaccination: the most unvaccinated eligible cohort is New Yorkers aged 5-11. New York will increase our focus on pediatric vaccination.    
  • Get booster shots to teenagers: we anticipate approval of Pfizer's booster shot for children aged 12-15 and will immediately begin outreach to that population once ready.

5. Work With Local Partners: From the beginning, Governor Hochul has emphasized that the fight against COVID must take a collaborative approach. Fighting the winter surge requires close collaboration with local partners:    

  • Let local leaders lead: from New York City to Erie County, local leaders are making smart choices. We will continue this surgical, targeted approach.    
  • Provide resources to local partners: Governor Hochul will continue to lead a whole-of-government approach to fight COVID, making sure county emergency managers and local school boards have the tests and masks they need. 

 

December 30, 2021 - 8:02pm

Press Release:

As 2021 comes to an end, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) want to wish you a healthy and Happy New Year! 2021 was a very busy year for the Health Department and a majority of staff efforts were focused on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, staff have also been working hard to ensure conditions in the community promote optimal health for the residents we serve. The Community Health Services staff have been working diligently at COVID- 19 testing and vaccination clinics, conducting COVID-19 case investigations and gathering/analyzing local COVID-19 data. In addition, staff have been educating on lead poisoning, investigating disease/foodborne illness outbreaks, providing guidance to pregnant moms and families with new babies as well as providing migrant health outreach to assist farm workers in both counties. Staff of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness team have been instrumental in planning, organizing and implementing the mass testing and vaccination clinics that occurred throughout the first six months of 2021. In the last six months, staff have been administering smaller testing and vaccination clinics that have been held weekly at the respective health departments. The Environmental Health Team members have been active in assisting with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics, but also assuring the community is safe from foodborne illnesses by conducting food inspections and issuing health permits to temporary food service establishments. Staff have also been inspecting septic systems, enforcing the NYS Clean Indoor Air Act, and offering free rabies clinics in both counties. The Lead Program continues to promote education and outreach to enhance lead poisoning prevention and promote testing of children to determine potential lead exposure. Through a federal The Genesee Orleans County Health Departments (GCHD/OCHD) uses 4 types of documents to provide important information to medical and public health professionals, and to other interested persons. Health Alerts convey information of the highest level of importance which warrants immediate action or attention from New York health providers, emergency responders, public health agencies, and/or the public. Health Advisories provide important information for a specific incident or situation, including that impacting neighboring states; may not require immediate action. Health Guidance contain comprehensive information pertaining to a particular disease or condition, and include recommendations, guidelines, etc. endorsed by GCHD/OCHD. Health Updates provide new or updated information on an incident or situation; can also provide information to update a previously sent Health Alert, Health Advisory, or Health Guidance; unlikely to require immediate action.
 

“Healthy People in a Healthy Community” grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), GO Health addresses lead-based paint hazards and other housing issues by funding health-related home repairs, maintenance, and upgrades to eligible homeowners and landlords. In October, GO Health was awarded a five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand the primary prevention of childhood lead poisoning to the entire GLOW region. Staff within our Children’s Programs spent the first half of 2021 assisting with COVID-19 contact tracing and vaccination clinics. In the second half of the year, Service Coordinators have been instrumental in assisting parents and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They provided education, case management, support and referrals to help children succeed and have a good quality of life. The Public Health Education team have worked diligently to provide up-to-date data and information related to COVID-19 to the community through press briefings, press releases, social media and website updates. GO Health launched their joint website this past spring, which is a centralized location for residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties to access forms and find resources. Weights & Measures (W&M) completed 345 inspections accounting for over 1,160 devices within the two counties. These tests involved pumping more than 21,000 gallons of fuel and using more than 5 million pounds of test weight ensuring all commercial weighing and measuring devices meet NYS standards. The department collected 132 fuel samples confirming fuel sold within both counties meet a variety of parameters. In the last two years, the W&M program has shown a savings in excess of $100,000.00 through GO Health shared services. In 2022, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties will be developing the new 2022-2024 tri-county Community Health Assessment (CHA)/Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and in partnership with local hospital systems, Community Services Plan. We will be looking for community members in all three counties to assist in the process by participating in community conversations and taking the Community Health Assessment survey. We are also looking forward to completing the Public Health Accreditation Process in November of 2022. “It is our pleasure to serve the residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “We thank you for the opportunity and look forward to a productive 2022. We wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy New Year.”

For information about GO Health, visit GOHealthny.org . For the Genesee County Health
Department, call 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 and for the Orleans County Health Department, call
585-589-3278.

December 29, 2021 - 5:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in COVID-19, 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

December 28, 2021 - 3:47pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, news, genesee county, health.

Press Release:

Genesee County is set to host a free KN95 mask distribution on Wednesday, December 29 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Alva Place parking lot, located on the corner of Alva Place and Bank Street in Batavia.  Additional KN95 masks will be available to the public during normal business hours at the Genesee County Clerk’s Office in County Building 1 at 15 Main St, Batavia, and the Genesee County Department of Social Services at 5130 East Main St, Batavia, while supplies last.  The free masks are provided by New York State.  

“We appreciate New York State stepping up to help us prevent the spread of COVID 19 and in particular the highly contagious Omicron variant by providing these highly effective masks,” said Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein.  “This will go a long way to helping our businesses, especially our retail businesses stay open, over the next several days as we welcome in the New Year.”

Residents can also sign up an upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive their first dose, booster shot, or a pediatric dose for children age 5-11 here.

December 23, 2021 - 1:47pm
posted by Press Release in Schumer, upstate, news, COVID-19.

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 today 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 today 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 woulddeliver 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.

 

A copy of Senator Schumer’s original letter to FEMA appears below:

 Dear Administrator Criswell:

I write today to ask for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) assistance as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent increase in cases due to the Omicron variant. The spike in cases has brought upon an increased demand for testing that is sure to strain the already robust testing infrastructure in New York City. In addition to supporting the City of New York’s request for an increased supply of at-home test kits, I ask that FEMA authorize the opening of 100 mobile test sites in New York City, and 100 additional mobile test sites across the rest of the state, including in Long Island.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, FEMA has played a central role in New York City’s fight against COVID-19. While I am grateful for these efforts and for the work of FEMA staffers, I ask that FEMA continue this partnership and build on its efforts as cases increase due to the Omicron variant. On December 21, 2021 New York City recorded its highest 7-day daily average of cases at nearly 9,500 cases. As reports of daily cases and hospitalizations continue to trend upward, it is vital that FEMA provide the City with the necessary resources to help slow this spread. With more testing capabilities in the form of at-home kits and testing sites, the City can better gauge the trends of this variant and provide more accurate guidance and information to residents.

Thank you again for your leadership and assistance over the past year as New York and the nation continue battling COVID-19. FEMA has been an invaluable partner in combatting this pandemic and I ask that as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly you continue this partnership and swiftly provide New York City the increased at-home testing kits requested in their letter to the Administration and authorize the opening of 100 testing sites across the City and 100 additional sites across the State.  

I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions

 

December 23, 2021 - 11:46am
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, 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.

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