Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

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.

COVID-19 LOCAL UPDATE

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.

November 4, 2021 - 11:57am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, COVID-19, health department.

pettit_head_shot.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control’s approval of a vaccine for 5-11-year-olds provides a new weapon in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic that has buffeted society for going on two years, Genesee & Orleans Public Health Director Paul Pettit said this morning.

Pettit (pictured at right), speaking to the media via Zoom, continued to spread the word about the effectiveness of the three authorized vaccines – Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson – in helping to prevent and reducing the severity of the coronavirus.

He also touched upon this week’s CDC approval (and New York State’s acceptance) of Pfizer’s vaccine for youth in the 5 to 11 age range.

“Under emergency use authorization, it's a little bit different than the full dose Pfizer vaccine for adults,” Pettit said. “It's actually a third of the adult dose, same time period. You're going to have a dose on day one and then you'll also be given a dose 21 days later to be fully vaccinated.

“And again, it'll be two weeks after that second dose that anybody would be considered fully vaccinated. So, it's a five week period, technically, if you look at it from start to finish when you get your first dose.”

He said the one-third dose that was tested showed sufficient antibody response for kids in that age group and has been shown in the trials to be effective at preventing disease and preventing symptoms in those who may again acquire the disease after being fully vaccinated.

Pettit said the COVID-19 vaccines “have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring through the development of it in U.S. history, and vaccinating children will help prevent and protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reduce the risk of severe disease hospitalizations and developing long-term COVID complications.”

Children at that age can be carriers of the virus, even if they are asymptomatic, Pettit said.

“They can bring COVID back home to their loved ones, including those that may be more susceptible to severe illness, even if they are vaccinated … So, this is the next tool for us as far as moving forward.”

He said he advises parents to talk to their healthcare providers, mentioning that children – like adults – have varying medical histories.

“We're not giving medical advice here. We are talking about the vaccine and the importance and the role that it will play in protecting children,” he said. "But ultimately, every child has their unique medical history, just like we all do as adults. And we want to make sure that any parents that have any questions or concerns … to become educated, to do your research, to evaluate and look at your own individual situation with your kids and talk to your doctor.”

Pettit spoke on a variety of subjects related to COVID and the activities of the Genesee and Orleans county health departments.

GUIDANCE, RESTRICTIONS IN SCHOOLS

Weekly conference calls with school superintendents continue, Pettit said, adding that, generally speaking, schools are doing well as the health department tracks the number of cases at all districts.

“I would say on average, we're probably around 15 to 20 percent of our active cases are in school aged kids, not necessarily indicating that it's school related spread,” he said. “But these are kids that are positive. So again, that number does vary -- vary up and down.”

The state continues to require masks for everyone indoors at schools – a mandate that has been “frustrating for parents” and “controversial,” Pettit said.

“But ultimately, we have seen a significant improvement in the reduction of quarantines in students this year. And what that has allowed for is better continuity of education. Kids have been able to stay in school and continue to learn in the in-class environment, which is, you know, something that our superintendents have been very vocal about in wanting to make sure we can keep these kids in-person and keep them learning and keep that continuity.”

Pettit mentioned “test and stay” -- a program under consideration by the NYS Department of Health that would allow students testing positive for COVID to remain in school and to avoid a quarantine as long as they are tested every day.

He acknowledged many logistical and supply challenges in implementing this program.

“We are exploring this,” he said. “We're looking at our different funding streams to see if we can … put together the resources to be able to purchase the supplies to get the staffing we need to be able to carry this out.”

Responding to a question from The Batavian on whether discussions are taking place regarding the number of 5-11-year-olds receiving the vaccine and it’s effect on the masking requirement, Pettit said he has not been advised of any verification of what percentage would have to be reached.

He did, however, offer some statistics pertaining to student vaccination rates.

“In Genesee County, the 12-15 age group, we’re at 35 percent vaccinated; the 16-18 at 52.3 percent, and in Orleans County, we’re at 39.1 percent in that 12-15 bucket and 47.1 percent in the 16-18. And the 5 to 11 has just started, so I'm sure we don't have very many there yet,” he said. “But, as far as the masking, that's going to be a decision most likely that's going to be carried out at the state level, not locally.”

POSITIVITY RATES

Pettit said the positivity rates in both counties are hovering around 20 to 30 positives per day, with active cases typically around 200 to 225.

“We have noticed over the last week or two, though, there has been some regional uptick in cases,” he said. “This isn't necessarily something to be unexpected as it is getting colder out … and as we start to come indoors now, there's obviously increased exposure risk, not just the COVID, but flu and other respiratory illnesses, other viruses.”

He advised everyone to “start refreshing” some of the precautionary measures such as masking and social distancing to minimize the spread -- and to stay home if you aren't feeling well as what may be thought of as a bad cold could actually be COVID.

In Genesee County to date, there have been 7,310 positive cases, with 222 currently in isolation and 15 of those active cases in the hospital. A total of 6,459 have recovered and been removed from isolation, while, unfortunately, there have been 135 deaths, he said.

The average seven-day positivity rate in Genesee County is around 8.1 percent.

As far as vaccination rates are concerned, in Genesee County, 64.6 percent of the population has received at least one dose and 58.6 have received the completed series, he said. The highest percentage is in the 65-74 age range – 83 percent.

As far as breakthrough cases in Genesee County, Pettit said 445 of the 1,891 new cases (23.5 percent) from Aug. 1 through Nov. 1 were contracted by those who had been fully vaccinated.

BOOSTER SHOTS

Booster shots of all three vaccines are available and the ability to “mix and match” is an option, Pettit said.

“So, depending on what vaccine you may have received the first time around, if you want to try something different that has been approved and has been shown to be safe, you are able to move to a different vaccine,” he said. “Again, that's completely up to the individual.”

Parameters that govern when people can get the booster shots exist, depending upon the brand of the shot being administered, he added. That information is available on the GO Health website -- GO Health - Genesee & Orleans Public Health Departments (gohealthny.org)

Pettit said the Moderna booster is a half-dose, while Pfizer and J&J are full doses.

“The booster shots are currently recommended now, especially with the Delta variant circulating,” he said.

Third doses, which are different from boosters, have been available since late August, Pettit said, and are recommended for those with compromised immune systems.

Vaccinations are being administered by the health department on Wednesdays in Genesee County and Thursdays in Orleans County. Testing (BinaxNOW, not PCR) is done on Fridays in Genesee and on Tuesdays in Orleans.

Previously: Pettit: County health department COVID booster shot clinics to begin Wednesday; about 120 signed up

November 1, 2021 - 6:42pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, COVID-19, health department.

GO HealthIt’s full speed ahead for the dispensation of COVID-19 booster shots at the Genesee & Orleans Health Departments.

Public Health Director Paul Pettit, speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting this afternoon, said GO Health will be conducting its first booster clinic on Wednesday of this week – offering Modern, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer doses.

For Genesee County residents, that means traveling to the health department offices at County Building 2, 3837 West Main St. Rd.

“Booster shots are open for everybody now … and we have about 120 people signed up for the morning (on Wednesday) already – and that’s all Moderna,” Pettit said. “So, that’s obviously leading to some additional demand. But most of our pharmacies are vaccinating, so people are able to go there, usually 9 (a.m.) to 9 (p.m.).”

Specifics of the three booster vaccinations, all at no charge, are as follows:

  • Moderna – 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Registration deadline, Nov. 3; appointments are limited). Open to those 18 and older with booster eligibility, including previous full vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J. This Moderna booster shot registration must be at least six months after receiving the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or at least two months after receiving a single dose of J&J.  You also must meet other eligibility requirements associated with age, work, or underlying health conditions as seen at: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/booster-doses.
  • Pfizer – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (Registration deadline: Nov. 3; appointments are limited). Open to those 18 and older with booster eligibility, including previous full vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. This Pfizer booster shot registration must be at least six months after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or at least two months after receiving a single dose of J&J.  You also must meet other eligibility requirements associated with age, work, or underlying health conditions as seen at: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/booster-doses.
  • Johnson & Johnson – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (Registration deadline: Nov. 3; appointments are limited). Open to those 18 and older with booster eligibility, including previous full vaccination with J&J, Pfizer, or Moderna. This J&J booster shot registration must be at least two months after receiving a single dose of J&J, or at least six months after receiving the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer.  You also must meet other eligibility requirements associated with age, work, or underlying health conditions as seen at: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/booster-doses.

In all cases, proof of identity and original vaccination card (or other proof of your original full vaccination) will be required at the time of your appointment.

Pettit also said he expects to hear soon, possibly tomorrow, that the childhood vaccine for 5-11-year-olds has been approved.

“We’re ramping up and preparing to do some childhood vaccines, probably starting next week, if we get the vaccine in later this week,” he said. “We're going to be running those clinics kind of late afternoon/early evening to afford parents the opportunity to get home from work and come to the clinic if they want.

“Again, the primary focus with that age group, though, is not really to come to us. We'd rather have them go to their pediatrician, where there's a little more comfort and familiarity. Obviously, for those that have gotten child vaccines at that age, sometimes (it's) a little more tricky, especially in a mass setting …"

When asked about people “mixing and matching” the booster shots, Pettit said, “It’s really the ‘Wild Wild West’ on that.”

“I guess if you want to change it up and try something different,” he said. “I'm going to stick with what I got the first time because well, frankly, Moderna is holding up the best of all three.”

Pettit suggested that people speak with their doctors about whether they should switch from what they received the first time. He acknowledged that many people have switched from J&J because that vaccine “has held up probably the least over time now against the Delta variant.”

He said that most of the breakthrough cases (people getting COVID after being vaccinated) are with the J&J vaccine.

“They (J&J) probably should have just done two shots to start with,” he said. “Their two shots basically are the same efficacy as two shots of Moderna or Pfizer. But I think they wanted to offer a simpler path.”

On related topics, Pettit offered the following:

  • Hospital bed capacity.

“As we get in the cold or flu season, you're going to get more and more people come in. I mean, obviously, what they'll (hospitals) start doing is backing off on elective surgeries and things to try to free up more bed capacity. You know, unfortunately, we're heading into the time when we get more access needs to the emergency room and bed capacities.”

  • Current COVID cases.

“Cases are holding fairly steady – we had a little bit of an uptick, I think, over the weekend, compared to where we were last few weekends. But overall, we're averaging around 25 to 30 new cases a day, and on average around 200 or more as far as active cases of folks on isolation.

“Regionally, most people saw a pretty significant increase over the weekend with active cases. So, I mean, it could be attributed to people coming indoors; things closing up – getting a little colder out. You may recall last year, actually, Halloween-ish kicked off a lot of the activity; we had low numbers pretty much through most of October. And then once we got to Halloween, gatherings and parties and things  started happening, and we started seeing an increase in numbers.”

  • Nattural immunity.

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) does not recognize natural antibodies for the purposes of avoiding vaccination or for avoiding quarantines, you know, unfortunately. And I think the reason for that is typically we develop antibodies for certain strains. If you have the alpha variant, it may be less effective versus new strains but still affords protection similar to the vaccines, especially in preventing severity of illness.  

“There's a lot of debate over natural immunity versus the vaccines … it's kind of a controversial thing, because, you know, I think it's debatable, one way or the other … I think they've shown -- that the data shows -- that the vaccines provide better protection than natural immunity in this case with COVID, just due to the new variant, especially so. But if you had the Delta variant, I mean, you have immunity from it."

  • New vaccine technology.

“I think this is really when you look at the way they were able to produce this vaccine so quickly. I mean, it's really due to the technology. And I mean, there's a lot of talk now to start using the mRNA approach for flu vaccines and other things. You know, if you think about the window, when they make a flu vaccine, you're looking at what was circulating over in Asia and China -- like coming off in January, February. I mean, they can wait now until April or May, and get the mutations in there, and they can produce a vaccine in a month or a couple months, You're going to get a better efficacy out of that vaccine.”

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

COUNTY OFFERING TELEHEALTH TO SCHOOLS

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.

September 9, 2021 - 11:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in health department, news.

Press release:

The Community Health Assessment (CHA) is a document required by public health law that identifies the key health needs and issues of the community through systematic, comprehensive data collection; community conversations; and analysis. The current CHA includes Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties (GOW) and covers three years (2019-2021). All three health departments along with our community partners will be starting the process of developing the new CHA that will encompass the years 2022-2024. 

The Community Health Assessment is developed using a collaborative process of many partners throughout the GOW region. Local hospitals including Rochester Regional Health at United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), Orleans Community Health (OCH), and Wyoming County Community Health System (WCCHS) along with the Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming (GOW) County Departments of Public Health work collaboratively with county residents and community based organizations of the GOW Counties to develop the assessment. 

“The Community Health Assessment provides us with comprehensive information about the health status, needs and issues that are facing the residents living in our communities,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “The information in this assessment helps us develop our Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and helps direct where our resources should be allocated to best meet the needs of our communities.” 

We are seeking feedback on our current Community Health Assessment to help inform the next version of the CHA and welcome any comments and suggestions from community residents and our partners. Here is the link to the current CHA (https://gohealthny.org/go-health-news/) and the feedback survey can be found at the gohealthny.org website or https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOWCHAFeedbackSurvey.  

August 31, 2021 - 3:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, COVID-19, health department.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATISTICAL INFORMATION

Genesee County:

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

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

Orleans County:

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

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

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

FOCUS IS ON GETTING PEOPLE VACCINATED

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION

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

IMPORTANT LINKS PERTAINING TO COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

NYSDOH Vaccine Tracker:

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

August 25, 2021 - 7:43pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, health department, COVID-19.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 21, 2021 - 12:09pm

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

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

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

Key points of the plan are as follows:

MASKING

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

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

WELLNESS

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

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

FACILITIES/SCHOOL OPERATIONS

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

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

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

CORONAVIRUS, ILLNESS

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

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

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

August 19, 2021 - 8:16am
posted by Press Release in anti-rabies clinic, health department, news.

Press release:

Rabies is a deadly but 100% preventable viral disease of mammals that is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. 

Each year, the vast majority of rabies cases are reported occurring in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. “It is very important to get your pets vaccinated and not to touch or handle any stray or wild animals including baby animals and bats,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).  “Remember not to touch animals out in public as they may be scared and bite or scratch out of fear.”

Bats can occasionally find their way into houses, which most often occurs during the summer nights. What should you do when you find a bat in your home? It is extremely important to safely capture the suspected animal if it has or may have been in contact with people, pets or livestock so it can be tested for rabies. If the bat cannot be captured, you should call the health department for advice and next steps. If you are certain that the bat did not come in contact with a person or pet, close the room and closet doors, open the windows and watch the bat until it leaves your house.

In some situations, it is possible that a bat bite could go undetected. For example, when a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person or a bat is found next to an unattended young child. 

“If the bat is available for testing and the test results are negative, post-exposure treatment will not be needed,” stated Pettit. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for all persons with a bite, scratch or mucus membrane exposure to a bat, unless the bat is available for testing and is negative for evidence of rabies. 

To safely capture a bat:

·       Turn on room lights and close all the windows.

·       Close the room and closet doors.

·       Wait for the bat to land.

·       While wearing thick leather-like gloves, place a coffee can, pail or similar container over the bat (Never handle a bat with your bare hands).

·       Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat. 

·       Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container, turn it right side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container. 

By avoiding contact with stray or wild animals, saving the bat or animal that may have had contact with humans or domestic animals, and reporting an incident to your local Health Department, we may be able to avoid unnecessary medical treatment that averages over $3,000.00 per person. As a pet owner, if you see your pet bite someone or know that your pet bit someone, please report it to the health department so we can get rabies verification. This will help avoid unnecessary medical treatment for the victim.  

Please take note of our upcoming FREE drive-thru anti-rabies immunization clinics for dogs, cats, and ferrets in Genesee and Orleans Counties. 

Orleans County: Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 RT. 31, Albion, NY)

·      October 2, 2021, from 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Genesee County: Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia, NY)

·      September 16, 2021, from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

·       October 14, 2021, from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

August 13, 2021 - 3:48pm
posted by Press Release in news, notify, indian falls log cabin, health department.

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.

August 12, 2021 - 5:30pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, health department, Paul Pettit, COVID-19.

Eighteen months and still no signs of slowing down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 23, 2021 - 9:00am

From the county health department:

New York will once again be taking part in a nationally coordinated effort to halt the spread of raccoon rabies in 16 states. The Oral Rabies Vaccine Field Evaluation will be held in New York, July 26 – Aug. 24.

Ongoing field evaluation of a new oral rabies vaccine (ORV) called ONRAB will occur in Clinton, Essex counties in the Empire State as part of an evaluation that also includes parts of northern Vermont and New Hampshire.  Additionally, evaluations will also occur in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wyoming counties.

These sites were selected in part because of ongoing collaborations with partners from the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, Canada, in the fight against rabies to protect human and animal health and reduce significant costs associated with living with rabies across broad geographic areas.  Aerial and hand distribution of baits will take place in New York from July 26 – Aug. 24. 

Rabies is a serious public health concern because if left untreated it is invariably fatal. Costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies conservatively exceed $500 million annually.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, greater than 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the United States are in wildlife. The cooperative USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, National Rabies Management Program (NRMP) was established in 1997 to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies in the United States by containing and eventually eliminating the virus in terrestrial mammals.

The majority of the NRMP efforts are focused on controlling raccoon rabies, which continues to account for most of the reported wildlife rabies cases in the United States. Raccoon rabies occurs in all states east of the established ORV zone that extends from Maine to Northeastern Ohio to central Alabama.

Continued access to oral vaccine and bait options that are effective in all target wildlife species remains critical to long-term success. 

During 2011, the NRMP worked with other Federal, State, and local partners to conduct the first raccoon ORV field trial in the United States in over 20 years.

This field trial was designed to test the safety and immunogenicity of the oral human adenovirus-rabies glycoprotein recombinant vaccine ONRAB (Artemis Technologies, Guelph, Ontario, Canada), which has been successfully integrated into comprehensive rabies control programs that resulted in elimination of raccoon rabies from Canada.

Encouraging results from the U.S. trial in West Virginia represented a major milestone that led to expanded evaluations in four additional states (N.H., N.Y., Ohio, and Ver.) during 2012-2020.

In 2021, the use of ONRAB will further expand into two additional states (Pa. and Tenn.). Data from these evaluations will support licensing of this vaccine for broader, more aggressive management of raccoon rabies by the NRMP and partners, with the goal of eliminating the variant of the rabies virus that cycles in raccoons.

The ONRAB bait consists of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blister pack, containing the vaccine. To make the baits attractive, the blister packs are coated with a sweet attractant that includes vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the bait. However, people who encounter baits directly are asked to leave them undisturbed.  Should contact with bait occur, immediately rinse the area with warm water and soap and contact your local health department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555, for Genesee County or (585) 589-3278 for Orleans County.

Please do not attempt to remove a bait from your dog’s mouth. The bait will not harm the dog. If you have additional questions related to the field evaluation in New York, please contact the Wildlife Services office in Rensselaer at (518) 268-2289.

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 [email protected].

paari_team.png

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 15, 2021 - 8:22am

Press release:

Next week GO Health Departments will be on the road with Pop-up Clinics. The Pfizer vaccine is now able to vaccinate anyone 12 years old and older.  Clinics with Johnson & Johnson Janssen (J & J) and Moderna will be available for walk-in and registration. Pfizer clinics are by registration only.

“We are happy to be able to provide the Pop-Up clinics between the two counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health. “With the shift in bringing clinics close to where people live, work, and play and being more flexible with the scheduling now is a great opportunity for more people to get vaccinated.

"Being fully vaccinated, two weeks after the second dose for Moderna and Pfizer and two weeks after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson will help us enjoy the spring and summer activities with less restrictions.”

 

*************Our first Pfizer clinic opened to those 12 years old and older is Saturday, May 15th from 9:15 a.m. to noon at Genesee Community College. There is still ONE open appointment window from 11:20 to 11:25 a.m.:  https://bit.ly/PfizerGCC*****************

 

Pfizer vaccine clinics are by appointment only. J & J and Moderna clinics offer walk-in opportunities; however, we encourage you to register via the vaccination webpage:  https://bit.ly/GOHealthVaccination  and choose the vaccine that best works for you. You can also click on the direct links in the grid below.

For those who do not have internet they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:  

  • Genesee:  (585) 815-7168
  • Orleans:  (585) 589-3170
  • These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-related questions, and are not associated with either Health Department.  

    “With everyone looking forward to the summer and the looser restrictions we encourage everyone to get vaccinated now,” stated Pettit.  “There are plenty of options to get any of the three vaccines offered. For your health and the health of others, we encourage everyone who is able to be vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”

    If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!  

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

    For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective Health Departments. For Genesee County, a rapid test drive-through clinic is scheduled for May 18th 1:15-3:15 p.m. at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

To register for testing go to the GO Health testing page:  http://bit.ly/GOHealthC19Tests and choose your preferred clinic location.

Wednesday, May 19

11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Genesee County 

Health Department 

3837 W. Main Street Road, 

Batavia

Moderna: Walk-ins & Apt.

http://bit.ly/ModernaGCHD

J&J: Walk-ins

Thursday, May 20

11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

UR Medicine Primary Care – LeRoy Medical Associates

127 W. Main St. 

Le Roy

Moderna: Walk-ins

J&J: Walk-ins

May 12, 2021 - 3:40pm
posted by Press Release in health department, Announcements, anti-rabies clinic.

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
posted by Press Release in Six Flags Darien Lake, news, health department, COVID-19.

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.

May 3, 2021 - 7:36pm

Mercy Flight Inc.’s air and ground emergency transport operation has taken a significant financial hit due to COVID-19 and continues to deal with challenges in other areas, including the safety and protection of its first responders and the ongoing effort to fairly compensate these skilled emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

That was the gist of a report by Michael Gugliuzza, the agency’s director of medical operations, at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse and via Zoom videoconferencing.

Gugliuzza said program expenses increased by more than $115,000 for personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 while net revenue for the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, decreased by $400,000 due to a decline in ambulance calls and the loss of emergency management services standby revenue from Six Flags Darien Lake.

On a positive note, he did say that funds from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program and federal stimulus have offset much of the loss.

In Genesee County, Mercy Flight received 143 requests for helicopter ambulance service during that fiscal year, resulting in 76 transports, Gugliuzza said. Fifty-six of the requests were deemed not necessary and 11 were canceled due to poor weather conditions.

He said that a change from Visual Flight Rules to Instrument Flight Rules will enable Mercy Flight to increase its weather-related capabilities.

“We’ve gone from what they call VFR, Visual Flight Rules, to be able to fly IFR or Instrument Flight Rules like the commercial jets and things like that,” he said. “So, this has broadened our capability with inclement weather – to be able to fly through much greater weather events.”

Ground ambulance transport decreased by about 6 percent, he said, with 9,649 calls for service resulting in 7,191 instances of patient contact (transports, lift assists and treatments without transport).

Gugliuzza said the company continues to battle the coronavirus virus from the front lines.

“We’ve worked hard to keep our crews protected,” he said, adding that those who wanted the vaccine were able to be fully vaccinated by mid-January.

He emphasized the importance of keeping staff and patients safe and protected, and thanked Genesee County Emergency Management Services for being “great partners” in meeting the PPE needs.

Gugliuzza said Mercy Flight’s “big challenge coming up now is essentially staffing, manpower and pay rates.”

“It’s a very tough market now between a lot of job openings, people not applying for a lot of jobs, and we’re competing with other industries outside of EMS,” he offered. “Part of that is we’re seeing big shifts in pay rates and those kind of things.”

He said Mercy Flight officials are working with payers (Medicare, Medicaid and others) to try to increase the pay scale. He also urged lawmakers to support first responders “and thus the safety and welfare of their constituents with legislative action when necessary.”

“Many of the fee schedules haven’t been adjusted in years and it really becomes detrimental to not just our agency but to EMS as a whole and other agencies as well,” Gugliuzza said. “We’re going to champion that cause and try to move this ahead in an effort to really make this a better industry for everybody.”

In legislative action, the committee approved an allocation of $12,825 for this year to support Mercy Flight.

Vaccination Process ‘In A Transition’

In a related development, Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the vaccination process is in a transition – shutting down the mass vaccination site at Genesee Community College and in Ridgeway, Orleans County as “every county in all of the state sites are really facing a reduction in demand of folks seeking the vaccine.”

“The amount of folks who are getting signed up now doesn’t really need to be in such a large location, so we’re kind of reverting back to a different model,” he said. “We’re taking more of a shift to the health department for a permanent site, so we will be there at least one day a week with walk-ins and/or appointments.”

Pettit said that health department staff is contacting business owners and managers to see if they are interested in on-site vaccinations for their employees and families, and also plan to travel to the various villages for one-day vaccines, either by appointment or walk-in.

“We’ve kind of hit our bulk number, I think, with the people that want it at the moment,” Pettit said. “So, it’s a little harder slogging at the moment and trying to talk to people about the importance of getting vaccinated and what that means to them – but also what opportunities it could afford them, like avoiding quarantine if you’re exposed, being able to go to different events and you wouldn’t have to pay for testing to attend. There’s a lot of different advantages that are out there by getting vaccinated.”

He said Johnson & Johnson (one shot) clinics are scheduled for Wednesday at GCC and at the Office for the Aging, with no appointments required.

“Johnson & Johnson -- one shot and you’re done. Two weeks from now you’ll be fully vaccinated,” he said.

April 8, 2021 - 12:28pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, vaccine, 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.”

April 5, 2021 - 9:15pm

Starting Tuesday, all New York residents 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – a major breakthrough coming a full year after the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

But, according to Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, this development doesn’t negate the fact that less than a third of Genesee County citizens has been vaccinated.

“Only 31 percent of the county (has received the vaccine),” Pettit said at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “We’re lagging behind the rest of New York State and the Finger Lakes Region, but we’re closing that gap.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that beginning tomorrow, 16- and 17-year-olds can only get the Pfizer vaccine, while those 18 and older will be eligible to take the Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna shot.

Pettit said he expects Tuesday to be a “big day” with the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (for those 18 and over) scheduled to be administered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Genesee Community College. As of 8:30 this evening, 18 appointments were available.

For more information, go to the GO Health website at G O Health COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule and Guidance – Orleans County Government (orleanscountyny.com).

The health director also said that the virus’ positivity rate in the county is “picking up a little bit, which is not unexpected.” He said the rate is at 2 percent in the Finger Lakes Region, up from 1.5 percent a couple of weeks ago.

He also noted that other strains of the coronavirus have been identified in Western New York – leading to more infections – and officials are seeing an increase in those in their 30s and 40s.

“Again, not unexpected as we have concentrated on vaccinating seniors,” Pettit said. “Once we focus on them (younger people), we will see those numbers go down. But there are still a lot of unvaccinated people.”

He continues to urge folks to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

“Keep vigilant … stay the course,” he said, adding that all three vaccines have been proven to be effective in preventing the virus, reducing symptoms for those who do get it and, “most importantly, the vaccine prevents death.”

When asked about the Excelsior Pass, an app that enables people to prove that they have been vaccinated, Pettit said determining its expiration date is a work in progress – and is subject to statistical measurements.

“We’re not sure of how long the vaccine holds up and we only have eight months of data,” he said.

Pettit said that current recommendations call for a booster shot a year after the first vaccination, but that doesn’t consider new variants and strains.

“There will be a booster shot at some point,” he predicted.

In related action, the committee forwarded a resolution to the Ways & Means Committee to extend for another six months (through Dec. 31) two temporary positions to assist with the county’s response to the coronavirus – a full-time clerk typist and a full-time COVID-19 response specialist.

“This is necessary since we continue to provide vaccinations and testing,” Pettit said. “Hopefully, this will be the only extension we need.”

In other action, the committee granted permission to apply for a grant to help the health department prevent childhood lead poisoning and for surveillance of blood lead levels in children.

Funding of $1.1 million over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be awarded through cooperative agreements to support primary and secondary prevention strategies for childhood lead poisoning prevention and surveillance.

Strategies include ensuring blood lead testing and reporting; enhancing blood lead surveillance; improving linkages to recommended services; and developing policies for targeted, population-based interventions with a focus on community-based approaches for lead hazard elimination.

Calling it a “big challenge,” Petti said he expects lead poison testing to pick up as COVID subsides. Should the department receive the grant, he said another employee will be hired to assist with the large data component attached to the funding.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

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

blue button

News Break