Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

Genesee County Health Department

November 30, 2021 - 8:58am

A nearly $1 million grant may be on its way to Genesee County Public Health to boost “workforce capacity" in the department's battle against COVID-19 and to enhance efforts in other areas, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said Monday afternoon.

Speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse, Pettit offered a resolution – which subsequently was approved by the HSC – to accept $980,544 from the New York State Department of Health to recruit, train, deploy and manage the NYS Public Health Corps Fellowship Program.

Touted by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Public Health Corps consists of individuals of all educational levels (“fellows”) that have been accepted to participate in the program designed to “bolster and improve public health workforce capacity,” Pettit said.

The grant will run for two years, through July 31, 2023, he said, with $250,000 of the money allocated in the 2022 budget. The remaining amount will be part of the county’s 2023 budget.

Pettit said he has a list of about 15 people who have applied to join the Public Health Corps.

The HSC also approved a contract with Coastal Staffing of Naples, Fla., to serve as the staffing agency or employer for those selected into the program.

“Genesee County will interview these individuals and if they are hired, then they will go through Coastal Staffing as their employer,” Pettit advised.

In other action related to the health department, the committee gave the go-ahead to accept an $11,000 grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials for Genesee County to participate in a wastewater surveillance mentorship program. This will run from Jan. 1-July 31, 2022.

Pettit said the money will be used by health department officials to monitor the viral load in municipal wastewater systems throughout the county and to provide guidance and recommendations going forward if necessary.

Both measures will be considered by the full legislature at its Dec. 8 meeting.


Reporting on the current COVID-19 picture in Genesee County, Pettit said the average number of cases per day over the last seven days has been steady at around 34, while the percentage of breakthrough cases is at 30-35 – up about 10 percent from what he had been seeing.

As of yesterday, there were 241 active cases – those in isolation – with 28 of those people in the hospital, he said.

Pettit said that 70 percent of Genesee County residents 18 years of age and older have received at least one vaccine shot, with that number decreasing to 59.6 percent when considering the county’s total population. That is much less than the 90 percent of NYS residents 18 and over who have received at least one shot.

He said the county health department is offering the complete spectrum of vaccinations – first shot, booster and doses for children ages 5-11.

“Booster clinics have been very steady,” Pettit said, adding that early studies show that booster shots provide a significant increase in protection from the coronavirus.

As far as testing is concerned, the county is offering testing once a week and has been meeting the demand. Pettit did point out that testing supplies are beginning to dwindle and if the state doesn’t receive the supply it has ordered, then “free” testing could end in a few months.

October 6, 2021 - 2:01pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, COVID-19, Genesee County Health Department.

Twenty-two students, teachers and staff at Genesee County school districts are listed as “new positives” as of Tuesday on New York State’s COVID Report Card dashboard.

Of that number, 15 are students, three are teachers and four are staff members, and of the students, five are in the Batavia City School District, four in Le Roy and Oakfield-Alabama and one in Pavilion and Pembroke.

The numbers also include two Elba teachers and one Pavilion teacher, and three Le Roy employees and one O-A employee.

Since Sept. 13, however, per data reported by the individual schools, 174 students, teachers and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 74 of those at Batavia and 50 at Le Roy – the county’s two largest schools.

At Batavia, 69 of those 74 are students, while three are teachers and two are staff members. At Le Roy, 38 of those 50 are students, while one is a teacher and 11 are staff members.

Breaking down those numbers further:

  • From Sept. 22 to Oct. 5, Batavia – 45 students, one teacher, two staff; Le Roy – 24 students, no teachers, 10 staff.
  • From Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, Batavia – 26 students, one teacher, two staff; Le Roy – nine students, no teachers and nine staff.

COVID-19 positives are low at other school districts, with Alexander reporting no cases at all since Sept. 13 and Notre Dame just two – with none in the last 14 or seven days.

Data from other schools is as follows:

  • Byron-Bergen: 15 students, two teachers, one staff since Sept. 13; five students, no teachers, one staff from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5; four students, no teachers, one staff from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.
  • Elba: No students, two teachers, no staff for all reporting dates.
  • Oakfield-Alabama: 15 students, no teachers, two staff since Sept. 13; 11 students, no teachers, two staff from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5; five students, no teachers, two staff from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.
  • Pavilion: Three students, one teacher, no staff since Sept. 13; two students, one teachers, no staff from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5; one student, one teacher, no staff from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.
  • Pembroke: Five students, two teachers, no staff since Sept. 13; three students, two teachers, no staff from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5; two students, two teachers, no staff from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.


In an effort to make it easier for school districts to interact with health care professionals, the Genesee County Health Department, as part of its comprehensive COVID testing plan, has set up a contract with Mobile TeleMed LLC of Buffalo to provide in-school telehealth sessions at no charge to school districts through July 2022.

“Schools that want to participate will be able to have a Telehealth cart down at the nurses’ office where students and/or staff come down and engage with varying levels,” Public Health Director Paul Pettit said.

“It could be a lower level, an RN (Registered Nurse), or mid-level, an NP (Nurse Practitioner), PA (Physician’s Assistant) or even a physician, where they can have that engagement in real time, on site, through the Telecart, and they can provide potentially a diagnosis, whether it’s COVID, along with on-site testing. There are a lot of ways they can leverage that relationship right at school.”

Pettit said this program could take the place of parents having to go to the doctor’s office after they get out of work or go to urgent care centers.

“We’re pretty confident that this type of technology will help us to avoid some of those unnecessary visits and allowed it to be taken care of right on site,” he said.

Pettit said Le Roy Central School district is very interested in participating.

 “We need the schools to sign on. We believe that Le Roy is very close. We’ve been working with them and have a couple of carts there.”

Le Roy Superintendent Merritt Holly confirmed that the district is “exploring the possibility and how we can further assist and help our students and families.”

The program is being funded by a grant to the health department, Pettit said, adding that the school district will contract directly with TeleMed, which will handle billing to the students’ family. Parents would need to sign consent forms for their children to access the videoconference technology.

“My hope is that this will be a sustainable access to care beyond COVID,” Pettit said. “Obviously, they (schools) would have to fund it after that point (after July 31, 2022). If the school found value in continuing to have something like this for their staff and their students, they could continue on past our grant funds. They’d already have the relationship and they could continue to use it as a way to engage health care.”

Fees (which will be paid for by the grant for through next July) are as follows:

  • Base pricing per district is $1,200 per cart per month, plus $500 for training and implementation.
  • Small school pricing is set at $2 per district student per month, starting at a minimum cost of $800 per month plus the $500 training and implementation charge.

Pettit said COVID testing is taking place in local schools, with testing kits provided by the county.

The Genesee County Legislature is expected to vote on the contract with Mobile TeleMed at its Oct. 13th meeting.


Update, Oct. 7, 9 a.m.:

A check of the NYS COVID Report Card this morning reveals that under the Lab Reported category, Alexander Central School District has had an estimated 18 positive cases among students since Sept. 1, 14 from Sept. 23-Oct. 6, nine from Sept. 30-Oct. 6, and one since Oct. 6. Lab Reported numbers and School Reported numbers can vary. As indicated in the story above, Alexander CSD apparently did not report positive cases to the state Department of Health or its report was not received.

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:


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.


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.


  • 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.


CDC Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools:

NYS Department of Education- Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year:

Testing link for both counties:

COVID data is updated on Genesee/Orleans Health Department emergin Issues page on Mondays and Thursdays in the afternoon:

Daily (Monday-Friday except Holidays):

NYSDOH Vaccine Tracker:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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 13, 2021 - 3:48pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department is aware of concerns about rodents at Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant located in Corfu, NY.

Public Health Sanitarians conducted an inspection this morning, August 13th, 2021 and the owner has voluntarily closed the restaurant.

The facility will remain closed until further inspections are completed.

July 8, 2021 - 8:53am

Press release:

Representatives of the organizations that support the Genesee County PAARI program will be recognized next Tuesday at a midday event at the City of Batavia Fire Department headquarters at 18 Evans St.

The local Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative has gained momentum in the county, most recently having the distinction of welcoming the Batavia FD as the first fire company in New York (and one of just a few in the nation) as a participant.

The program is designed to provide support and resources to help law enforcement and public safety agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

PAARI leaders in Genesee County are highlighting the significance of this development by holding a two-hour public session, beginning at 11 a.m. on July 13.

They also have changed the name of the program slightly in this area to Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative instead of the official name of Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative -- while still using the PAARI acronym.

The event will feature leaders of the four public safety agencies that have signed on to PAARI: Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Batavia Police Department, Le Roy Police Department and Genesee County Health Department.

Officials of program sponsors Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and GOW Opioid Task Force also are scheduled to speak.

The GRHF will be presented with a plaque at the event for its support and funding of necessary renovations at the fire headquarters.

Complimentary food and beverage will be provided to all in attendance. Once registered, individuals will be contacted for their lunch selection.

To register for this event, click here.

For more information, contact Christen Ferraro, GRHF project coordinator, at cfer[email protected].


Photo: Representatives of Genesee County Sheriff's Office, Batavia Fire Department, Le Roy Police Department and Batavia Police Department that support the PAARI program in Genesee County. Submitted photo.

June 28, 2021 - 3:29pm

Press release:

This week, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics at their respective health departments. For the first time, each clinic will offer all three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

The Pfizer vaccine is available for anyone 12 years of age and older and the J&J and Moderna vaccine is available for anyone 18 years of age and older. J&J is one dose, and Moderna and Pfizer are two doses.

Genesee County will hold their vaccination clinic on Wednesday, June 30th from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at 3837 W. Main Street Road in Batavia. Orleans County will hold their clinic on Thursday, July 1st from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at 14016 State Route 31, Suite 101.

Both vaccine clinics are available for walk-ins and registration. If you are interested in making an appointment, visit the GO Health website at https://gohealthny.org/covid-19-vaccine-information/

 “We want to continue to provide opportunities for our residents to get vaccinated as we try to increase vaccination rates for each county,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“According to the Finger Lakes Vaccine Hub, Orleans County is currently at 51.2 percent and Genesee County is at 55.6 percent of population (12+) with at least one dose. Our goal is to vaccinate as many residents as possible.”

If you are a business/church/organization that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic, please fill out the survey and one of our staff members will be in contact with you -- https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOHealthPopUpVaccineClinic.

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective Health Departments.

For Genesee County, a rapid test drive-through clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, June 30th from 10:00-10:30 a.m. at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main St. Road, Batavia.

For Orleans County, a rapid test clinic is scheduled for Thursday, July 1st 10-10:30 a.m. at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion.

For the rapid test clinics, registration is required. To register for rapid testing for the Genesee Test Clinic: http://bit.ly/GeneseeTests. To register for the Orleans Test Clinic: https://bit.ly/OCHDRapidTest

For COVID-19 inquiries, those that do not have internet, vaccine/testing registration assistance and questions related to testing and vaccines, please call (585) 344-2580, ext. 5559, for Genesee County, and (585) 589-2762 for Orleans County. 

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the GO Health website at www.GOHealthNY.org and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GOHealthNY.

May 12, 2021 - 3:40pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department will be hosting a FREE drive-thru anti-rabies immunization clinic on Thursday, May 20th from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 E. Main St., Batavia). 

“We encourage all Genesee County residents to take advantage of this opportunity to make sure that their animals are immunized against rabies and that the vaccinations are kept up to date,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

“Rabies continues to be a serious public health concern in Genesee County and is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Please leave wildlife alone and do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats.”

Vaccinations are free for dogs, cats and ferrets, but voluntary donations are accepted. Animals must be at least 3 months old. Each animal must be leashed or crated and accompanied by an adult who can control the animal. Limit four pets per car maximum. 

Face coverings are required and please follow all social distancing requirements. 

To save you time, please click here to fill out your registration form in advance. Be sure to print out two copies for each pet to be vaccinated and bring them with you to the clinic. 

The next anti-rabies immunization clinic in Genesee County will be held on Aug. 12th. For more information, please contact the Genesee County Health Department: (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555 or [email protected]

May 7, 2021 - 12:59pm

Press release:

DARIEN CENTER — Six Flags Darien Lake, the Thrill Capital of New York, is teaming up with the Genesee County Health Department to offer a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the park on Tuesday, May 11.

“As a proud member of this community, we are honored to partner with Genesee County and do our part to help protect the public,” said Six Flags Darien Lake Park President Mark A. Kane.

“The safety of our guests and team members is always our highest priority, and we’re excited to play a role in ensuring that anyone who wants a vaccination is able to get one,” added Kane.

The clinic will take place in the Six Flags Darien Lake Human Resources building on Tuesday, May 11 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Clinic participants will receive two (2) complementary tickets to Six Flags Darien Lake in 2021.

Advance appointments are required for Pfizer, and encouraged for J&J (Janssen) utilizing the links below:

 The Six Flags Darien Lake Human Resources office is located on Sumner Road just past the theme park entrance. If you are traveling south on Route 77 (the park will be on your left), drive past the theme park entrance and take the first left after the light onto Sumner Road, or guests may enter 1501 Sumner Road, Corfu, NY 14036 into their GPS.

Six Flags Darien Lake will open for a special Members and Season Pass holder preview weekend event on May 15 and open for the regular season on May 21.

April 8, 2021 - 12:28pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, vaccine, Genesee County Health Department, news.

Press release:

As of April 6, individuals 16 years and older can now receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Genesee County health officials pointed out that the Pfizer vaccine is currently the only shot authorized for those 16 and 17 years old. Pfizer is a two-series dose, 21 days apart (three weeks). The Moderna vaccination also is a two-series dose, 28 days apart (four weeks), and is recommended for people aged 18 and older. It also is important to remember that youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“Following the announcement from last week that anyone 30 years and older is eligible for a vaccination with this announcement is an extremely positive development as it means we are starting to see a steady supply of the vaccine,” said Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein.

“The County is going to be utilizing various ways to get the word out to these age groups about the importance of getting vaccinated, including our social media channels. We also encourage parents and guardians and others in the community to not only get their vaccination, but also encourage those in these younger age groups to get their shots.”

Genesee County health officials also reminded residents that if they get a vaccine, then the person must be able to return for the second dose for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination after the first dose. That appointment is scheduled immediately after vaccination and the shot will be administered at the same location of the initial vaccination.

To see a list of vaccination clinics and availabilities in Genesee and Orleans Counties please visit this website.

It’s important that residents in these age groups get vaccinated as they are currently comprising a higher percentage of our current infection rates,” said Genesee County Public Health Director Paul Pettit.

“These age groups also are more socially active and as we begin to see restrictions on gatherings becoming more relaxed, the likelihood that infection rates among these age groups will continue to increase. That is why we must continue to be vigilant in preventing the spread by wearing a mask, adhering to social distancing and practicing good hygiene.”

January 25, 2021 - 4:35pm

Press release:

Genesee and Orleans counties continue to work diligently to distribute the limited supply of vaccine received in their continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were hoping to receive 2,500 doses of the vaccine between Genesee and Orleans counties but were made aware that is not going to occur because of the statewide shortage,” said Paul Pettit, director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

“We realize that those who hoped to schedule appointments this week are going to be very upset as well and we are disappointed to have to give them this news.”

The state(wide) allocations were the same as the week before (250,000), the county health departments (Genesee and Orleans) are only receiving 300 doses total between the two this week, which will be utilized for 1B essential workers per the state’s directive.

Those over age 65 should continue to seek vaccine from their providers, pharmacies and the state sites. Appointments for vaccine are currently online ONLY.

Last week the county-run clinics were able administer approximately 1,050 doses.

“At GCC on Friday alone, we were able to administer approximately 550 doses of the vaccine in a seamless fashion. On average, people got theirshots and were able to leave the testing sites within 20 minutes,” said Matt Landers, Genesee County manager.

“As a result of our experience inoperating the COVID19 testing sites, our workforce and community volunteers have been able to replicate this into a smooth operation at the vaccination siteswhen vaccine supplies are readily available.”

We ask those who are 65 and older, part of Priority Group 1B, to continue to check the clinic schedules and as requested by the state, to use the pharmacy links. Pharmacies and other sites that are part of the “retail network” are workingto provide vaccine to the 65 and older population as they receive vaccine.

How the pharmacies set up their appointments are determined by the pharmacies and the state. The local Health Departments or OFAs do not have insight on how pharmacy clinics are run.

Keep checking the site links as many of the pharmacies may not have received vaccine.

If you do not have a computer/internet access, please contact your Office for the Aging for assistance. For Genesee County call (585) 813-2457 between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and for Orleans County call (585) 589-3191 between 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and they will assist you as best as they can.

Please check the following links:

For clinic schedules when vaccine is available and information about vaccination clinics:

http://bit.ly/39bfElNGOHealthVaccine, please note the registration links are subject to change and will be updated.

For the NYS-run vaccine clinics: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/

Clinics are only open when there is vaccine available. You currently can only register for an appointment online.

Each provider is responsible for their own registration and set-up, the Health Departments are only responsible for the clinics they sponsor. Please do not call the host sites for the County Vaccination Clinics...they are only providing the space and cannot assist with registration or questions.

You must return to the provider where you initially got your first shot, for your second shot. You must also get the same vaccine brand as your first shot. The appointment is to be made for you while you are there for your first shot.

December 8, 2020 - 12:52pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, City Schools, Genesee County Health Department.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” have taken on a new meaning for Batavia City School District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., who has had to make the difficult decision of implementing 100-percent virtual learning at all four district buildings prior to the holiday break.

“I think these 12 school days off (Dec. 7-22) will allow us to get a little bit of the staff back and hopefully limit the number of people needing to quarantine since there are no kids in the building and there are no additional staff members needing to congregate or walk by each other or be in the same place,” Soler said today. “We should be able to have our staffing back to the levels that they need to be to and be able to reopen Jan. 4.”

Soler said that the inability to adequately staff the classrooms drove him to shut the schools down, adding that 81 teachers, aides and other employees have had to quarantine since the start of the school year.

“The issue is not so much students, it’s the staff members,” he said. “If a teacher has to quarantine at home for 14 days, then I need another adult to cover the class for the in-person kids because the teacher is now home. It makes it extremely hard knowing that we already struggle with the substitute teachers, so it also makes it hard to deliver a quality program. We gratefully have some of our teachers who are willing to tele-work, but we still needed another adult to supervise the kids in front of them.”

The superintendent said he was not under any statewide pressure to enforce all distance learning, but pointed to a couple variables – the rolling seven-day average for positive cases in Genesee County at around 8 percent and the daily calls from students and staff needing to quarantine.

He said that 21 staff members and 21 students have tested positive “and every single one of those positives results in a group of people that have to quarantine for 14 days.”

“It becomes unmanageable and we’re at a breaking point. Definitely 50 percent of our buildings would have been significantly impacted,” he said. “By having kids home, we wouldn't have to worry about substitute coverage and teachers could still teach remotely during these next 12 days.”

Soler said that most students will miss five in-person days (due to a schedule that features a mix of in-person and remote learning).

“That was a heartbreaking thing because we prided ourselves on being able to offer at least some in-person learning to our students, unlike other communities that have been shut down all year,” he offered.

He also mentioned that people continue to gather socially, which makes it even tougher to provide in-person learning.

“As we work with the Genesee County Health Department on contact tracing, we find out that people did go to somebody’s house for Thanksgiving or kids did have a sleepover at someone’s house,” he said. “We know these things are occurring, unfortunately, but when they do occur, they come back into the building and make it hard for us to staff the building.”

Only about 20 students – those who have special needs -- are being allowed in school buildings, he said.

Soler said he believes strongly that Gov. Andrew Cuomo should classify school personnel as “essential workers.”

“If the governor were to label all school staff members as essential employees then they wouldn’t need to quarantine if they don’t have any symptoms. We’d really like to see that rule changed because then we could have had in-person learning – keep school open,” he said. “We should be able to designate them as essential and not make them quarantine if they don’t have any symptoms. As it stands now, that seems pretty harsh.”

He said Cuomo has said on multiple occasions that schools are the safest place … “so why not give us some additional leverage and leeway with the guidelines?”

Soler said he expects that the buildings will reopen on Jan. 4 unless there is a resurgence and the governor deems otherwise.

“Right now, we’re working on increasing the number of parents to give us consent to do the Binax rapid testing in school in case that is required for us to stay open,” he said. “And we’re also focusing on delivering a high-quality virtual experience for the next 12 days.”

November 19, 2020 - 4:03pm

From Derek Geib, owner of Bourbon & Burger Co.:

The purpose of this is to add to the vague press release about Bourbon & Burger Co. by the Genesee County Health Department and to clear up any misinformation that is out there.

First of all, we are open and we plan to be for many years to come.

Second, the individual reported was not in the building after receiving a positive test result.

Third, there is no concrete proof that the individual was positive while in the building.

The person reported a headache on Nov. 8, was here Nov. 9, and received a positive test result Nov. 11 -- a full 48 hours after being in the building.

Fourth, no one in Bourbon & Burger during the dates in the press release has been placed on mandatory quarantine, nor have they been told by the Health Department that they needed to get tested.

These are the facts.

We will tell you what the Health Department isn’t telling you but should be -- COVID-19 IS EVERYWHERE. What they also know is it is in the big box stores, the chains and the fast-food restaurants. It is not confined to your four hometown restaurants as it may seem from their press releases.

You should be practicing caution everywhere and monitoring your symptoms no matter where you’ve been.

We have served thousands of you since this pandemic began without incident, we are following every protocol and guideline that is out there to keep everyone safe. The government has turned its back on our industry, we can’t afford for our community to do so as well because of misinforming press releases.

This industry is barely hanging on and all of Batavia's restaurants need you now more than ever. The only way we all make it though this is together.

October 27, 2020 - 12:57pm

Public Health Column from the county health department:

Oct. 25th – 31st is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a time when families, community organizations, and local governments join efforts in the fight against lead poisoning in their communities.

Lead poisoning in children can lead to hyperactivity, reduced cognitive (thinking) ability, and other permanent, negative health effects. One of the goals of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) is to spread awareness of this public health issue and to increase lead poisoning prevention throughout our communities.

Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, declares that “Lead poisoning can be prevented! The key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. Take time this week to learn about ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects.”

This year, the Center for Disease Control has compiled three themes for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week:

  • (1.) Get the facts: Most childhood lead poisoning occurs when children swallow or inhale dust containing lead, often from lead-based paint which was commonly used throughout homes until 1978. Children ingest (eat) lead when they put their hands or other dust-covered objects, such as toys, in their mouth, eat paint chips or soil contaminated with lead, and inhale lead dust, particularly during home renovations or other paint disturbances.
  • (2.) Get your home evaluated: Although the use of lead was banned from products such as paint since 1978, many homes in our communities still have remnants of old lead paint in them. Old, chipping paint, particularly around window sills, door frames, banisters and porches pose a serious health risk, especially in young children who tend to spend most of their time crawling or playing on the floor.
  • (3.) Get your child tested: A blood test is the only way to discover if your child has been exposed to lead resulting in a detectable blood lead level. New York State requires that health care providers test all children for lead at age 1 and again at age 2. Health care providers are required to ask parents/guardians about theirchild’s exposure to potential lead hazards up until 6 years old. If there is any suspected exposure in that time frame, another blood lead test may need to be administered.

In New York State, the goal is to have 80 percent of children tested for lead at these ages. Local data shows that the screening rates among children in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties fell below the State goal in 2019. Lead testing and early detection can prevent long-term health problems for your child and their future. Make sure to talk to yourchild’s doctor about lead screening at their next appointment!

Funding may be available to help make your home lead safe. In January 2020, the Genesee County Health Department (on behalf of GO Health) received a $1.3M federal HUD grant to address lead-based paint hazards in homes and rentals throughout the City of Batavia and the Village of Albion, including installation of replacement windows, paint, siding, and other home repairs. Specifically, the grant targets low-income households with children under the age of 6; this includes homeowners and landlords with low-income tenants.

Recently, Genesee County was able to revise the grant target area to include all areas within Genesee and Orleans Counties, making potential grant funding available to qualified applicants throughout both counties.

“Lead hazards exist in older homes all over Genesee and Orleans Counties. We want every eligible resident to have a chance to apply for these funds, and we’re prepared to help them through the process,” said Darren Brodie, Lead Program coordinator for Genesee and Orleans counties.

For those who don’t know whether they qualify as low-income, as defined by HUD, the information can be found online or by contacting the Health Department directly. This target area expansion is expected to go into effect next month, and the Health Department is currently accepting applications countywide for both Genesee and Orleans in anticipation of the expansion.

For more information on the GO Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, or for general information on lead hazards and the negative effects of lead poisoning, call the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5507, or email.

Lead hazards in the home won’t go away on their own. Lead poisoning prevention starts with YOU!

For more information contact the Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

September 2, 2020 - 7:33pm

Every bit of funding helps when it comes to testing positive cases of COVID-19 and those who may have come in contact with those individuals, especially considering the cost of testing.

At today’s Genesee County Legislature Ways & Means Committee, lawmakers accepted a $6,785 grant from the New York State Association of County Health Officials for test kits and lab-testing expenses.

Genesee County Public Health Director Paul Pettit said his agency does limited testing “when we have positive cases and follow up testing with direct contacts of those cases.”

The health department conducts nasopharyngeal swab testing, a deep nasal process that uses the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing protocol.

With each test costing around $100, this funding can go a long way, Pettit said.

“The mini-grant we were just awarded will be used to provide kits and funding for our cases and contacts," he said. "Prices for testing vary considerably depending on the type of test and lab running the sample."

Pettit said that turnaround time can be an issue, too, as the common NP-PCR test currently averages four to 10 days for the result to come back, depending upon the location of the lab.

He said that lag could change as point-of-care tests are “just starting to come on line and will hopefully be available across the state soon. These tests provide results within 10 to 15 minutes and are significantly cheaper than PCR testing.”

The health department doesn’t offer general community testing, but acts as an advocate with other agencies to increase state-sponsored testing in Genesee and Orleans counties.

“This has been and remains a significant issue that needs to be addressed for all rural counties,” Pettit said.

In a related development, the health department contracted with ACM Global Laboratory of Rochester to analyze COVID samples and to bill insurance companies for lab testing performed on behalf of Genesee County. The pact runs through March 17.

In other action, the committee approved the following resolutions:

  • Adoption of a $170,218 budget for the 2021 Genesee County STOP-DWI plan – an increase of about $5,000 from the 2020 budget but $73,000 less than requested by law enforcement and other agencies that benefit from the program.

All STOP-DWI activities are funded completely from fine collections and have no impact upon the county’s general fund.

County Manager Matt Landers said there has been a significant decline in drunk/drugged driving arrests in 2020, primarily due to the coronavirus. He is projecting 145 such arrests for 2020, compared to more than 200 in a typical year.

“There are less people on the road … less festivals and carnivals where people would be (drinking) and driving,” he offered.

Departments that receive STOP-DWI funds include Genesee County Sheriff, City of Batavia Police and Le Roy Police (with half of the funding going to those three agencies), as well as District Attorney, Genesee Justice, Probation, City/County Youth Bureau and Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Money also is allocated for administration costs.

  • Creation of a mental health clinical therapist position to replace a mental health clinic social worker position, a move that would expand the candidate pool, according to Mental Health Director Lynda Battaglia.

The title change, effective Sept. 10, will allow the department to hire therapists who hold degrees in areas other than social work, Battaglia said, and will have no financial impact as both civil service jobs are at the same grade level.

  • Amendment of the Office for the Aging budget to accept $117,708 in funding from several sources to support the COVID-19 public health emergency by enabling the agency to purchase home-delivered meals, groceries and other supplies for homebound seniors.

Funding sources include the Federal Stimulus Packages Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Cares Act Nutritional Services, Supportive Services, Caregiver Support and New York Connects.

  • Acceptance of a $32,360 grant from the state Health Department’s Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection to support the county’s efforts to make sure businesses aren’t selling tobacco products to persons under the age of 21.

The renewal of funding for the county’s tobacco enforcement contract runs from April 1 of this year through March 31.

Pettit reported that tobacco use among youth has decreased, but vaping usage has increased.

July 29, 2020 - 11:57am

As he prepares to become the next Genesee County manager, Matthew Landers said he considered it a priority to appoint someone with a track record of exceptional job performance to replace him as the tammi_ferringer_1.jpgassistant county manager.

That’s why he moved quickly to offer the position to Tammi Ferringer, a Genesee County employee since 2005 who has served as the municipality’s compliance officer since September of last year.

Both Landers and Ferringer will begin their new assignments on Aug. 15, the day after County Manager Jay Gsell retires after 27 years at the helm.

“I have had the opportunity to closely view Tammi’s work the past year as the compliance officer and have been impressed with the efficient and accurate manner in which she does her job,” Landers said. “During this pandemic, she continued to shine by taking on whatever project was tossed her way and was able to carry it to completion with little guidance.”

Landers also spoke highly of Ferringer’s work that began in the mid-2000s as senior financial clerk-typist and then as a supervisor and administrative officer/budget officer at the County Health Department.

“(I recall that) rather abruptly, the two highest ranking positions in the department left county government, leaving a large financial/administrative hole that needed to be filled,” Landers said. “Being in the treasurer’s office at the time, I can remember wondering how all of the financial/budgetary administrative work was going to get done.”

He said that “without missing a beat,” Ferringer stepped up and filled the gap until the other positions were filled.

“Many others could have simply said that work is outside of my title, or it isn’t my responsibility, but Tammi jumped right in and made a significant difference,” Landers said.

Ferringer, a 1997 Batavia High School graduate, said she has always taken a proactive approach when it comes to getting the job done.

“I remember when that happened it was a sign for Matt and I to take over the state aid piece (at the Health Department). So, we got some training in Utica, figured things out and just ran with it,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me working outside of a title.”

After about nine years at the Health Department at County Building 2 on West Main Street Road, she moved to the other side of town, accepting the director of fiscal operations and child support position at the Department of Social Services on East Main Street Road.

“I really enjoyed working at the Health Department, but the opportunity at DSS came with a significant pay increase and I realized that unless I went back for my master’s degree, I had hit my peak there,” said Ferringer, who earned an associate degree in Business Administration from Genesee Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from Brockport State College.

Hired by former Social Services Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick, Ferringer’s knowledge and ability served her well at DSS, and opened the door for her to become the county compliance officer.

“In June of 2019, Matt reached out and offered me the county compliance officer position. I wasn’t looking for a new job, but when the county manager’s office calls ... I figured there would be room for growth,” she said.

Landers said Ferringer has “continually exceeded expectations in her different roles in the county, leading to a series of promotions and advancements. Her unique skill sets in both finance and compliance make Tammi a great fit for the needs of the assistant county manager position.”

In her new role (working out of the Old County Courthouse downtown), Ferringer will assist with budget preparation and monitoring duties, oversee the STOP-DWI program and the county workers’ compensation program that includes virtually all of the towns, villages and school districts in the county, Landers said.

“She will also cover a variety of compliance responsibilities, including the County’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinator, the fair housing officer and privacy officer, to just name some of the compliance hats,” he said.

Landers said that Ferringer also will lead the county’s shared services initiative and coordinate its safety plan and monthly safety meetings.

“These are just some of the assigned duties. There will be countless projects and issues that arise during the normal course of government that Tammi will plan a critical role in solving and completing,” Landers added.

Ferringer joked that Landers already has begun “transitioning some of the duties and he’s been smiling all along the way.”

Salary for the position currently is at $85,000.

A Town of Batavia resident, Ferringer represents the town on the Genesee County Youth Board and also serves on the Genesee Area Family YMCA Board of Directors.

She has two children, Jacelyn, 20, an employee at Richmond Memorial Library, and Caleb, 13, who will be entering Batavia High School this fall.

July 9, 2020 - 2:26pm

Voluntary Water Conservation Notice from the Genesee County Health Department:

All residents served by the Genesee County countywide Public Water Supply (GCPWS) are requested by the GCPWS and the Genesee County Department of Health to conserve water.

According to the local weather forecast, Genesee County is expected to endure at least three more days of excessive heat and humidity. It is expected that very high levels of water consumption will continue throughout this period.

To avoid an emergency situation, all residents served by the GCPWS water system are asked to do their part to conserve water. Guidelines to save water include:

  1. Avoid filling swimming pools.

  2. Avoid watering lawns and washing cars.

  3. Use your automatic dishwasher only for full loads.

  4. Use your automatic washing machine only for full loads.

  5. If you wash your dishes by hand, do not leave the water running for rinsing.

  6. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator to keep it cool instead of running the water.

  7. Check faucets and pipes for leaks. Leaks waste water 24 hours a day, seven days a week and often can be repaired with an inexpensive washer.

  8. Check your toilets for leaks. To test for leaks, add a small amount of food coloring to the toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately.

  9. Take shorter showers. Long showers can waste five to 10 gallons every extra minute.

  10. Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors. Area hardware or plumbing supply stores stock inexpensive water-saving showerheads or restrictors that are easy to install.

    We need your help. If voluntary conservation measures are unsuccessful, mandatory water conservation may be enforced. Questions may be directed to the Genesee County Department of Health.

  11. The Genesee County Department of Health can be reached at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555 or:  [email protected]

June 11, 2020 - 2:55pm

Health Update from the Genesee County Health Department:

The Genesee County Health Department received notification that a Genesee County resident who attended the “March for Justice” event on Sunday, June 7th, in Batavia has tested positive for COVID-19.

The individual did not know they were positive prior to attending the event but exhibited symptoms associated to COVID-19 at the event.

The individual reported to have been wearing a mask the entire time they were at the event from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Currently three close contacts have been placed under mandatory quarantine in Genesee County and two additional close contacts reside outside of the county.

“Although the warmer weather is here, COVID-19 is still very much in ourcommunities” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

“We must continue to take actionsto decrease the spread of the virus by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water, and avoiding large crowds such as social events and parties.”

Pettit also mentioned that an increase in cases may slow down the reopening of businesses in our region.

“Our region must maintain a set of metrics in order to continue the phased reopening in our region," Pettit said. "If we see a spike in cases or hospitalizations, the reopening process will either be delayed or stopped depending on the metrics.”

Click here to view the NYS COVID-19 Regional Metrics Dashboard.

Although the exposure risk is low, anyone who attended the “March for Justice” is encouraged to monitor their symptoms for 14 days from the event until June 21st.

If symptoms develop, contact your primary care provider or click here to find a testing site near you.

Governor Cuomo is also urging all people who attended a protest or rally to get a COVID-19 test (please click the link above to find a testing site near you).

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include: a fever of 100.4 or greater, fatigue, loss of taste and and/or smell, headache, cough or difficulty breathing, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

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.

May 5, 2020 - 9:37am

The local public health director on Monday said he is a bit wary about how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s regional approach to reopening the economy will affect Genesee County.

“I do have some concerns around the regional approach here as we’re going to be able to move forward and (or) get stuck on pause based on what our entire region (Finger Lakes) does, and if you look at the metrics, it’s going to be driven by data,” said Paul Pettit, director of the Genesee and Orleans Health Departments.

Speaking at the Human Services Committee meeting of the Genesee County Legislature, Pettit said the region is “lining up a little bit more now” with the hospitalization rates that are part of the equation leading toward increased business activity.

“It’s based on 100,000 residents, so look at our Finger Lakes Region,” he said. “I think we’re around 1.3 million, maybe a little less, and we have to meet certain data points.”

On Monday, the governor stated that the Finger Lakes Region meets five of the seven metrics needed to reopen safely: decline in hospitalizations; decline in hospital deaths; new hospitalizations; percentage of hospital beds available; and percentage of ICU beds available.

The region does not meet requirements dealing with the number of residents tested monthly and the number of contract tracers, the governor said.

Pettit acknowledged that the governor's latest press conference provided more clarity in his four-phase approach to reopening by sharing the “different metrics we need to go through in order to progress.”

“We’ve been asking for weeks now exactly what this is going to look like, so it’s starting to shape up a little bit,” he said.

He said the county’s plan is to send information to businesses and other organizations with some guidance so, “hopefully when we get to Phase 1 here and we get to launch on May 15th – which we’re optimistic will happen – all of our essential businesses that will be added in, mainly around construction, manufacturing and some retailers, etc., will be ready to go.”

County Manager Jay Gsell indicated that the Finger Lakes Region is one of the five regions that on May 15th will be able to enter Phase 1.

“If our metrics and our data still continue to look positive, we should be able to look at the phasing of reopening of the Finger Lakes Region, which Genesee County is part of. That’s one small sliver of good news, at least this afternoon around 4:25,” he said.

Pettit was asked about antibody testing in Genesee County, and said that it is not widely available in this region.

“Unfortunately, just like the testing, we seem to be lagging behind,” he said. “We are getting some results in from antibody testing. We have not had anybody as of last Friday that had shown they had antibodies. There are some Genesee County residents that have been tested (for antibodies) at random sites the state has or health care workers.”

He said antibody testing reveals a “level of exposure to the virus … helping us understand how much of our community has been exposed, but it doesn’t really tell us much beyond that about protection and immunity … it’s still too new.”

The Human Services Committee passed a resolution accepting an additional $4,726 in funding from the New York Department of Health to cover increased workload costs in connection with early intervention administration as it pertains to referrals of children showing signs of lead poisoning.

In other developments, the committee voted in favor of four contracts pertaining to the Office for the Aging:

-- Increasing the amount of an agreement with ARC of Genesee Orleans by $40,000 for meal service preparation as demand has risen due to COVID-19. The original amount for the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020 was $223,927.

Office for the Aging Director Diana Fox said the additional expense is covered by federal stimulus funds and other funding streams that were directed to the agency. She also said that serving congregate meals has given way to home-delivered meals at this time.

-- Extending an agreement with the National Council on Aging Inc., to provide Aging in Mastery Program sessions through the end of the year -- beyond the previously approved May 2020.

The program offers interactive classes for adults 55 and older that promote behaviors that improve health, economic security, self-esteem and social activity.

-- Renewing a RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) grant of $47,500 through March 31, 2021 from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The grant, which was included in the 2020 county budget, enables the agency to utilize the network of local volunteers to assist older citizens in various areas, including coping skills, veterans’ support, environmental stewardship, reducing food insecurity, emergency preparedness and opioid awareness.

-- Renewing a contract with Willcare Inc., to oversee consumer-directed in-home services from June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021 at hourly rates ranging from $20.51 to $23.11 per hour, for a total not to exceed $25,792 for the specified year.

Under this plan, the control of homecare services is shifted from homecare agencies – which in many cases are unable to accommodate all requests -- to the consumer (or representative) for budgeting, care planning, decision-making and arranging for services and staffing.

March 16, 2020 - 6:24pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, COVID-19, Genesee County Health Department.


Calling the COVID-19 pandemic an “unprecedented and rapidly evolving event,” the public health director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments this afternoon reported that while there are no confirmed cases of the virus in either county, local officials are ramping up efforts to gather testing kits and to set up drive-thru screening sites.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Old County Courthouse in Batavia, Paul A. Pettit (inset photo below, left) said seven people in Genesee County are under a “precautionary” quarantine and three people in Orleans County are under “mandatory” quarantine – steps that are taken to monitor their conditions over a 14-day period and to make sure they do not get symptoms associated with the virus, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.

“This is an unprecedented event and were responding as it has been evolving,” Pettit said, as he was joined by several other county officials during the 40-minute session. “Our public health staff has been working around the clock … with the goal for our residents to make sound, wise choices. The brainpower in this room is well situated to hand this storm together.”

Pettit said that contrary to rumors, no one in the two counties has come down with the virus – which he said has a fatality rate 10 times that of influenza – but that his department will be notified by hospitals should that occur. He also pointed residents to go to the health department’s website for accurate information.

He admitted that the health department currently has no “swabbing kits” for testing – “we’re working to get some,” he said – but they are available in the community (through primary care providers, for example).

Officials in both Genesee and Orleans have declared states of emergency, which will extend for a minimum of 30 days, Pettit said, and “have moved forward with the closing down of schools.”

He also mentioned Gov. Cuomo’s directive that restaurants, bars, casinos and other social and recreational venues would be required to close after 8 o'clock tonight, advising consumers that restaurants will be offering carry-out and take-out options.

Regarding testing for the virus, Pettit said that county leaders are looking to set up drive-through sites (specific locations have yet to be identified) to screen “the most vulnerable – seniors and those with immune-compromised health issues.”

“If you’re sick, stay home; that’s the best thing you can do,” he said. “Wash your hands frequently and (practice) social distancing. It is best to implement this before we have a case. Spread out and practice social distancing – even if it seems extreme and unnecessary. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can weather this thing together.”

Responding to a question about the difference between COVID-19 and the flu, Pettit said that it hits seniors and “compromised” folks very hard.

“The hardest hitting was in the Wuhan province (China) where 3 to 5 percent was the death rate,” he said. “That makes us nervous on the public health side.”

Pettit also said the virus can stay in the air for three hours and said it was important to wipe down countertops and door knobs as it can linger on surfaces for quite some time.

“We need to flatten the curve,” he said. “We want to push out the number of cases and slow it down” so it doesn’t overwhelm the health care system.

Tim Yaeger, coordinator of the Genesee County Office of Emergency Management Services, said that his agency along with the Orleans County office, will be supporting the health care system as “services need to be maintained.”

“You may see tempered responses,” he said, advising people to use the 9-1-1 system only if it’s a true emergency.

Genesee County Clerk Michael Cianfrini said he is putting measures in place to limit the number of people looking to complete transactions at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Batavia.

“We’re very short-staffed as it is, with only two cashiers and one trainee,” he said, “and we had lines out the doors, which goes against all advice we have said regarding social distancing and it exposes our staff.”

Cianfrini said as of tomorrow, less than 10 people will be allowed in the DMV lobby at one time – the overflow will have to wait outside – and that a sheriff’s deputy will be there to monitor the situation.

“Unless it is absolutely necessary, don’t come into the office,” he said. “My main concern is the safety and health of my staff.”

Batavia City Manager Martin Moore said the City Clerk’s office will be “closed (for walk-ins) for the foreseeable future” and advised people to use the telephone or go online.

“Most people are very good and are stepping up, but a few have been coughing and hacking,” he said. “So out of caution for the employees, the door will be locked if you try to come in that door.”

He also said the protocol will be modified for those attempting to enter the police station and that Falleti Ice Arena will be closing today, also for the foreseeable future.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said that although Genesee County Park in Bethany and the DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia will be closed, he and his staff are committed to maintaining the county workforce’s “semblance of continuity going forward.”

Gsell said press updates will take place at 4 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse from Monday through Friday until circumstances warrant otherwise.

For more about the COVID-19 pandemic, call 1-888-364-3065 (NYS hotline). Those experiencing anxiety or mental health issues due to the crisis are advised to call 585-283-5200.

Top photo -- Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron, County Clerk Michael Cianfrini, City Manager Martin Moore, County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, Public Health Director Paul Pettit, Orleans County Emergency Management Director Dale Banker, Genesee County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button

News Break