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April 4, 2020 - 11:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

The executive order Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday he was going to sign requiring upstate hospitals to ship some of their ventilators and personal protective gear downstate has caused a firestorm of opposition in Western New York.

Elected leaders and aspiring candidates have weighed in with their objections and social media posts have exploded in debates about the policy.

The rising consensus is that once again, Cuomo is putting the needs, desires, and priorities of urban downstate residents over their rural fellow citizens.

The Batavian made multiple attempts to reach out to the governor's office to ask four questions we thought might help clarify things for readers:

  • We want to know: Who determines and defines "excess"?  Our public health director, Paul Pettit, said yesterday that between Orleans and Genesee Counties, there are 11 ventilators. While none are currently being used for COVID-19 patients, he doesn't know how many are being used to treat other respiratory illnesses.  He is concerned that when the coronavirus outbreak reaches its peak here, local hospitals will need 100 ventilators.  "That's why we don't feel we have an excess that we can offer up to downstate," Pettit said.
  • As for PPE, there are ongoing concerns about a shortage of gear in our own county (though another shipment arrived yesterday), so the same question applies: How and who determines if there is an excess of PPE in Genesee County?
  • What guarantee can the governor offer that if ventilators are needed here, that there will be an immediate and timely backfill of any ventilators removed from our area?
  • What is the calculation, has one been done, or what is the projection that we can rely on, that will assure us that downstate's apex will subside before one in GLOW begins?

Late today, a member of the press office responded and pointed us to comments by Cuomo that he said should satisfy the first question.

To the first question, what defines "excess"? Today in his briefing Cuomo said, "So, what do we do? We find what equipment we have, we use it the best we can. If you ask hospitals today what ventilators do you have that are unused and available that they don’t need in the short term and take 20% of that number of available ventilators, that’s 500 ventilators."

To the overall scope of the questions, the aide pointed to Cuomo's discussion about Oregon assisting New York in its time of need.

The State of Oregon has lent us 140 ventilators. It was kind, it was smart, stop the virus here. It's better for the state of Oregon, it's better for the nation. Their curve comes after ours. We'll return their 140 ventilators, and there's never been a discussion, but frankly, I know New Yorkers and I know New Yorkers' generosity. We will turn it double fold because that's who we are and that's what we believe. So, stop the fire in New York, kind, generous, also smart.

The governor's office estimates that New York needs 17,000 ventilators total. It's unclear how many the federal government has or will send.  There are efforts underway to hook up two patients at a time to a single ventilator. They are also efforts to use anesthesia machines and a machine called a BiPAP (similar to a CPAP used to treat sleep apnea but adjusts to the inhale and exhale of the person wearing the mask). 

Also, Cuomo announced today that Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma, co-owners of Alibaba (China's largest e-commerce company) have purchased 1,000 ventilators and are sending them to New York.

The news about the number of ventilators Cuomo plans to transfer from Upstate to Downstate and the gifts from Oregon and China is a level of detail not part of Cuomo's announcement yesterday to take ventilators from Upstate.

Cuomo's statement on Friday:

I'm not going to get into a situation where we're running out of ventilators and people are dying because there are no ventilators but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they're not using. I'm just not going to allow us to go there. I think it would be wholly irresponsible. I'm going to sign an executive order that says the state can take ventilators and PPE from institutions that don't need them now and redeploy them to other parts of the state and other hospitals that do need them. Those institutions will either get their ventilator back or they will be reimbursed and paid for their ventilator so they can buy a new ventilator.

That caused alarm bells in some quarters.  Even Paul Pettit, in his mild-mannered way, expressed concern.

"Obviously, taking and removing any level of our ventilators or taking and removing any of our PPE that we have from our region or any region in our state is something that we have grave concerns about," Pettit said, sharing that Dan Ireland at UMMC shared his concern.

Noting that with COVID-19 cases are on the rise locally, our community needs its emergency supplies and staff.

"The last thing we want to do is get in a situation where our availability of PPE, our availability of respirators, any of those things, are not available for us when our peak, when our apex comes in the next two or three weeks," Pettit said. "I understand what he governor is trying to accomplish, that they have a need down there right now but I don’t want our communities to be in a very precarious and unfortunate situation that when ours comes we don’t have the type and level of respirators and PPE we need to respond effectively to help keep our folks, our residents in our counties safe. So, it is a big concern."

We asked Ireland to comment and said UMMC is working to ensure the hospital remains ready for whatever may come.

Rochester Regional Health, including UMMC, is working collaboratively with local, regional and state agencies to ensure that necessary resources are available where and when they are needed to care for all patients who require hospital care. At this time, UMMC has not been asked to divert equipment or resources downstate and we stand ready to serve our community as we have been for over 100 years. We are grateful that the residents of our community are flattening the curve by staying home so that, together, we can stop the spread of the virus and keep our community at-large in good health.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley yesterday, blasted Cuomo's order.

"It’s the worst possible management of this crisis I have seen thus far, and I am asking the governor to rescind his Executive Order," Hawley said. "Upstate and Western New York lives matter.”

All of the Republican candidates for the NY-27's congressional race chimed in.

Most notably, Chris Jacobs, who is currently a state senator and the GOP-endorsed candidate in the special election to replace convicted criminal Chris Collins (the special election has been moved from April to June 23, the same date as the GOP primary), put out a tweet yesterday that claimed Buffalo General Hospital had already been forced to surrender 30 ventilators.

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The tweet was later deleted.

Kaleida Health issued the following statement about "social media rumors."

Michael P. Hughes, Chief of Staff, Kaleida Health said, “The rumors that have circulated on social media are completely false. The National Guard was not at Buffalo General Medical Center or any of our other hospitals.  Nor were ventilators or supplies taken from us.  This type of misinformation only causes further panic and chaos in a time of great uncertainty. That said, we still vehemently oppose the Governor's executive order to take 20% of upstate hospitals' equipment and supplies.  We will continue to fight this in an effort to protect our patients as well as our physicians, nurses, and staff during this pandemic."

Stefan Mychajliw, one of the candidates challenging Jacobs in the GOP primary put out a press release attacking Jacobs over the tweet.

“People are scared," Mychajliw said. "Our community is panicking. Young and old are fearful of dying. Many people lost their jobs. The last thing we need is someone falsely fanning the flames of discord just to score a few cheap political points in the middle of a campaign. Chris Jacobs must apologize for this false, reckless and irresponsible claim.”

The Batavian emailed the Jacob's campaign about the tweet, at a time when we were still trying to confirm it (as the screenshot above shows, we did find the original tweet) but did not get a response.

Jacobs had earlier put out a press release about the governor's executive order.

“The Governor has made it very clear that NYC is the starting point for COVID-19, but that a wave could very well travel across our state and hit Western New York," Jacobs said. "By taking away our vital medical supplies, the Governor is directly putting all Western New Yorkers at risk. When we don’t have the resources to fight COVID-19 here, we will lose Western New York lives.”

Beth Parlato, also a GOP challenger in the primary, responded to the governor's executive order by launching an only petition at wnylivesmatter.com/.

“Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that he is taking ventilators from upstate New York to bring to New York City," Parlato said. "He is deploying the National Guard to remove essential supplies from our hospitals to take downstate.  We need these ventilators in Western New York to fight COVID-19!  WNY medical professionals have been working tirelessly over the past few weeks, and they are running out of supplies. It is critical that our needs are considered."

With all of the announced GOP candidates for the NY-27 weighing in on the executive order, we sought a comment from Nate McMurray, the endorsed Democratic candidate in the special election and did not get a response.

While many of Cuomo's long-standing critics in WNY lined up to call Cuomo dictatorial, it hasn't been a sentiment that has been universally shared among conservative WNYers.

Republican operative and former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, for example, has posted several tweets supporting Cuomo's order.

 

UPDATE 12:21 a.m.: McMurray provided the following statement:

The order reads, “from institutions that don't currently need them and redeploy the equipment to other hospitals with the highest need.” Some have tried to use scare tactics, to divide us, saying this means the governor will try to raid hospitals with ventilators already in use. My opponent, Chris Jacobs, lied saying Buffalo General Hospital was already raided, but later deleted his comment.

This is a time for bravery and cooperation, not scare tactics. Oregon sent ventilators to NYC, yet officials in Western New York are reluctant. It makes no sense. We are in this together. New York City’s fight is our fight. We need to try and stop the fire there before it spreads here. It’s one state, one country, and within our means, we must assist with the hope that Albany and New York will share other resources later. We do not want to go this alone, nor can we.

The real issue is our national response. Our President tells us we have enough tests and ventilators every day. Clearly we do not. It’s sad that it’s state vs state, county vs county because we have no national plan or vision.

April 4, 2020 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

he Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments have received 3 more COVID-19 cases. Orleans has 2 new cases and Genesee has 1. There is currently no further information to release on ages and locations. Mapping will be updated on Monday after the press the daily press briefing.

Contact tracing has been initiated.

April 4, 2020 - 2:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

Quentin I. Bloom, 22, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt in the first degree and second-degree harassment. Bloom was arrested after a domestic incident at 2:18 a.m. March 31 at an upper apartment on Edward Street in Batavia. It is alleged that he struck a person who had an order of protection against him. Bloom was arraigned in Batavia City Court at 7:01 a.m. on March 31 then put in jail on $2,000 cash bail, $4,000 bond, or $8,000 partially secured bond. He is due back in court on April 27. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller, assisted by Officer Alec Roberts.

Michael R. Lanze, 30, of Pearl Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt in the second degree and burglary in the second degree. Lanze was arrested after an investigation and arraigned in Batavia City Court at 4:12 a.m. on April 1. It is alleged that he was found at 11:48 p.m. March 31 in the upstairs apartment on Hutchins Street in Batavia of person who had an order of protection against him. He was jailed on $500 cash, $1,000 cash bail, or $2,000 partially secured bond. He is due back in court on April 27. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Alec Roberts, assisted by Peter Flanagan.

April 2, 2020 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19 for a total of 17 positive cases
    • One under the age of 65 residing in the central part of Genesee County
    • Orleans County: Has no new cases and is at a total of six positive cases
    • The new positive case was not under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms become present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus. When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts

Cumulative Data

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  • Healthcare providers are advising patients undergoing swabbing that are symptomatic (based on availability and screening for high-risk) for COVID-19 to self-isolate until test results are received and COVID-19 is ruled out. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
  • We are not providing community testing at this time. We will be announcing further information on this as local capacity increases.

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • Social distancing must be practiced in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. This means canceling events such as parties, celebrations, and neighborhood gatherings where people congregate together. This also means that children and adults should not play contact sports. These are temporary requests that will help stop the spread of the virus so that we can resume normal activities. If you must go to the store, always maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and other people.
  • Please remain home if ill, even if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to continue to limit physical contact. Flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. If you work with a vulnerable population, self-monitor prior to going to work, if you become sick while at work, contact your supervisor immediately and leave the premises to decrease the risk of contact with others. When not working, follow social distancing and limit time in public.
  • Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are in higher risk categories – elderly and immune compromised and those with underlying health issues.
    • Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.
  • Older Adults: The Office for the Aging in both counties continues to operate. They are still providing meals to their residents and are working with their vendors to provide the potential increase in meals to the residents they serve.
    • For Genesee County: NYConnects / Office for the Aging call (585) 343-1611 Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    • For Orleans County: Older Adults in Orleans County can contact Arc of Genesee Orleans Nutrition Program at 589-5424 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Office for the Aging staff members are coordinating with Meals on Wheels to ensure meal delivery to seniors in need. The staff are keeping their spirits up to stay safe and still deliver smiles with nutrition. There is a suggested donation for meal delivery, but do not let cost get in the way of asking for this help. If you have concerns about not having enough food call NY Connects/Office for the Aging at 589-3191.
  • Anxiety, Depression, Fear: If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, fear about this outbreak call the Care + Crisis Helpline at 585-283-5200, text 741741 or call the NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 884-863-9314, they have trained listeners available 24/7 to help you through this.
April 1, 2020 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received three new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 16 positive cases;
    • One under the age of 65 residing in the central part of Genesee County;
    • One under the age of 65 residing in the western part of Genesee County;
    • One under the age of 65 residing in the western part of Genesee County;
    • For Orleans: Has no new cases and is at a total of six positive cases;
    • In Genesee County, two individuals that were under mandatory quarantine tested positive and are now under mandatory isolation.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all the new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms become present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus. When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts. Some in the community continue to voice requests about knowing the locations of individuals who have tested positive, those who are being monitored and where they have been in the county so that they may know where to avoid. The current situation is that every place is potentially a location that you could catch the virus. If would be a disservice to our communities to share specific locations that could indicate that there is any area in either county that is unaffected by the threat of COVID-19. Please stay at home as much as possible, please stay home if you are sick, please encourage others to do the same and please show kindness to others.

Cumulative Data

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  • Healthcare providers are advising patients undergoing swabbing that are symptomatic (based on availability and screening for high-risk) for COVID-19 to self-isolate until test results are received and COVID-19 is ruled out. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
  • Currently, NYS clearance protocol for discontinuation of mandatory isolation for persons with confirmed COVID-19 is the following: it has been at least seven days since the initial positive test for COVID-19, at least three days without fever and no use of fever-reducing medication, and improvement in the signs and symptoms of the illness. Swabbing through the Health Departments is warranted as part of our quarantine/isolation protocol for those who become symptomatic. We are not providing community testing at this time. We will be announcing further information on this as local capacity increases.

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • Please remain home if ill, even if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to continue to limit physical contact. Flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. If you work with a vulnerable population, self-monitor prior to going to work, if you become sick while at work, contact your supervisor immediately and leave the premises to decrease the risk of contact with others. When not working, follow social distancing and limit time in public.
  • Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are in higher-risk categories – elderly and immune-compromised and those with underlying health issues.
    • Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.
  • Take media breaks: If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, fear about this outbreak call the Care + Crisis Helpline at 585-283-5200, text 741741 or call the NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 884-863-9314, they have trained listeners available 24/7 to help you through this.
  • Nature Breaks and Parks: We are getting reports of groups not practicing social distancing. This is not a time for playgroups. Parents remind your children they are to keep their distance from non-household members to limit the spread of disease. State Parks are free with limited services available. Local parks may close or limit access to adhere to state guidelines.
    • Fore guidance on Responsible Recreations During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis, click here.
    • For Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation COVID-19 Updates, click here.

FRAUD ALERT – Watch out for Scams!

  • At this time there are no FDA-approved drugs or treatments for COVID-19.
  • There are also no over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. If you get an email, phone call, offer by mail or other solicitation for these scams, hang up and ignore them.
  • This is a very important warning to reinforce for every County resident.
  • The best medical advice for you comes from your healthcare provider.

NEW YORK STATE CASES / RESTRICTIONS / GUIDANCE

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today at his press conference there are now a total of 83,712 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in NYS.
  • 12,226 (15 percent) COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.
  • The Governor has extended NY PAUSE program (nonessential workers down to 0 percent) until April 15; this will be evaluated every two weeks.
  • New Yorkers without health insurance can apply through NY State of Health within 60 days of losing coverage. https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/
  • The President and CDC have ordered a travel advisory (NY, NJ & CT) – this is not a lockdown, these federal actions support state actions to date. It is OK to be outside in your yard, ride bikes, visit a state park for walks, to take rides in your vehicle, however congregating and taking the family shopping does not comply with social distancing (keeping 6 feet from others, limiting time out in public).
March 31, 2020 - 7:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

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In early March, the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams, told Americans to stop buying masks.

With very good reason: if the general public buys up the supply of masks, especially all of the N95 masks (the best at blocking airborne viruses from entering your respiratory system), there wouldn't be enough for the people who really need them, such as doctors and nurses.

But many health care experts have been questioning recently the rest of the surgeon general's message: That masks are ineffective at protecting you from coronavirus.

Now the Center for Disease Control is considering rescinding its recommendation against general public mask wearing.

Before we discuss why it might be a good idea for all people in public to wear masks, let's remember the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is:

With that knowledge, should you worry about package delivery? The experts say, "no." The risk is very low.

What about food delivery and take out? Again, the risk is very low, and COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and even if it were to enter your digestive system, it wouldn't survive to infect you.

However, it's always good to remember when dealing with other people or touching surfaces, maintain social distancing and wash or sanitize your hands immediately.

Service workers should sanitize their hands after every exchange.

Now, about masks.

It's important to know, masks by themselves won't protect you. Even the best N95 mask is imperfect protection and surgical mask, the kind that loosely covers your nose and mouth, is designed to protect others from germs you might be spreading, not to protect you. Because they don't form a tight seal around your nose and mouth, air (which can contain droplets containing the virus) flows around the edges of the mask into your respiratory system.

Here's the argument for masks:

  • You can contract coronavirus and be infectious without showing any symptoms or showing only minor symptoms. That means you could potentially be a carrier of COVID-19 and not know it. If you go into public you can spread SARS-CoV-2 to other people and never know it. If you're wearing a mask, you present much less of a risk to other people, people who might be much more susceptible to the disease.
  • There is much that scientists don't know about COVID-19 but there is a theory that viral load (how much virus a person breaths in before the infection takes hold) affects health outcomes. There is some speculation that wearing a mast might reduce the viral load if you are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2. We don't know, but as one medical journal noted, the lack of evidence for effectiveness isn't proof of ineffectiveness.
  • If more people wear masks in public, it will reduce the social embarrassment or stigmatization associated with wearing masks. 
  • And as Dr. Neil Aberneth noted in our discussion today, maintaining your mental health is important during this pandemic and if wearing a mask makes you feel more comfortable and safer in public, you should wear a mask.

Do you know where mask wearing is common? In South Korea, which, even though that country had its first official case of COVID-19 on the same day as the United States, has had far fewer positive cases and fewer deaths. 

So, should you go out and buy face masks? Well, even if you wanted to, good luck finding them. Surgical masks on Amazon.com won't be available until at least May. Besides, whatever supply of professionally made masts might be available should first go to health care professionals. That leaves, "Do It Yourself (DIY)." Below are some videos on making your own face mask.  

If you do wear a face mask here are some important guidelines from healthline.com:

  • Wearing a mask alone will not prevent you from getting a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Careful handwashing and social (physical) distancing must also be followed.
  • Wash your hands before you put on your mask.
  • If you are wearing a mask, avoid touching it the front of it. You can transfer the virus from your hands to the mask.
  • You can also transfer the virus from the mask to your hands. Wash your hands if you touch the front of the mask.
  • Know how to put on and remove a mask by touching the elastic ear straps only.
  • Do not wear a mask if you are healthy and in self-quarantine.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. This may help prevent spreading the virus to others.
  • If you think you may have the SARS-CoV-2 infection, wear a mask. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have any symptoms.
  • Wear a mask if you are caring for someone who may have a SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 disease. It may help prevent you from catching the infection.
  • Don’t write your name or initials on your mask as that will inactivate it.
  • Do not reuse a worn mask. It may have the virus on it.
  • Throw away used masks in a closed bin.

Related Links:

Here are a couple of videos from YouTube about making face masks at home. There are dozens of others if you search for them. There are a lot of options. Just remember, don't buy them (you probably can't anyway), make them.

And if you're willing and able to make them for other people, drop me a line, [email protected], with information on how people can get them, and we'll compile and publish a list.

March 31, 2020 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

COVID-19 Update from the Genesee/Orleans Health Department:

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received one new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 13 positive cases;
    • One under the age of 65 residing in the central part of Genesee County;
    • For Orleans: one new positive case of COVID-19 for a total of six positive cases;
    • Individual is under the age of 65 and is a resident of the central part of the county;
    • None of the new positive cases were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic and are not believed to be connected.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all the new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms becomes present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus. When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts.

covidgridmarch31png.png

Cumulative Data

  • Healthcare providers are advising patients undergoing swabbing that are symptomatic (based on availability and screening for high-risk) for COVID-19 to self-isolate until test results are received and COVID-19 is ruled out.Follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
  • Currently, NYS clearance protocol for discontinuation of mandatory isolation for persons with confirmed COVID-19 is the following: it has been at least seven days since the initial positive test for COVID-19, at least three days without fever and no use of fever-reducing medication, and improvement in the signs and symptoms of the illness. Swabbing through the Health Departments is warranted as part of our quarantine / isolation protocol for those who become symptomatic. We are not providing community testing at this time. We will be announcing further information on this as local capacity increases.

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • Please remain home if ill, even if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to continue to limit physical contact. Flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. Do not be afraid of people because they may be coughing or sneezing, they may have allergies, but continue to keep your distance (at least 6 feet).
  • Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are in higher risk categories – elderly and immune compromised and those with underlying health issues.
    • Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.
  • Respect / Social Responsibility / Fear mongering / Consequences –Health Departments are mandated to adhere to HIPAA regulations therefore we are not releasing potential identifying information of anyone who is under our care.
    • If during contact tracing there is an issue of missing potential contacts we will provide locations. Not everyone who coughs or sneezes has a respiratory virus. People need to be respectful of the process and the guidance surrounding social distancing. COVID-19 is now community transmissible therefore people need to take social distancing seriously.
    • There are consequences for not adhering to the directives. Noncompliance may prolong the spread of COVID-19 as well as increasing the spread which can overwhelm our healthcare systems and put our vulnerable populations at increased risk.
    • Sticking to the basics: limiting exposure to the public, frequent handwashing, staying home if ill with any respiratory illness, keeping 6 feet of distance from other people and sharing creative ideas to keep in touch with family and friends are what we need.
  • Take media breaks: Talking about who has or hasn’t been tested, is sick or sharing rumors about anything COVID-19 is increasing anxiety in many people. Be respectful and stay home as much as possible. It is safe to go outside or for a ride, but be mindful to keep at least 6’ distance between other people. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, fear about this outbreak call the Care + Crisis Helpline at 585-283-5200, text 741741 or call the NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 884-863-9314, they have trained listeners available 24/7 to help you through this.
  • Community Spread: Means you can get it from respiratory droplets from infected people and on any surface as long as the virus is still viable. If you touch a door handle, counter, etc. that has the virus on it, then touch a mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes) you can introduce the virus into your body. Identifying a store or business where people may have been doesn’t help because the virus is everywhere and can give a false sense of security that the virus isn’t somewhere else. Limiting trips to the store and designating only one person for shopping can lower the risk of spreading the virus. With the rising numbers, it is important to know the social distancing guidance will work but it takes time before we can see the results. The coming weeks are most critical in determining how many lives can be saved in our communities by staying safer at home, social distancing, and having good hand (wash often) and cough (do not cough in your hand, but in a disposable tissue or your elbow) hygiene.
  • Nature Breaks and Parks: We are getting reports of groups not practicing social distancing. Many parks have roped off areas of their parks to discourage group play (basketball, football, soccer, using shared equipment or frequently touched surfaces such as the playground equipment). This is not a time for playgroups. Parents remind your children they are to keep their distance from non-household members to limit the spread of disease. State Parks are free with limited services available. They are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice social distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. Contact your local park for specific information on any changes to their operations in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
    • Guidance on Responsible Recreations During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis:http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/decparkscovid19guide.pdf
    • Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation COVID-19 Updates: https://parks.ny.gov/covid19/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
    • If parking lots are full, come back another time or go to another area of the park. Remember to be safe whenever you are hiking in parks.
    • Avoid games and activities that require close contact, frequently touched surfaces such as playground equipment
    • Maintain social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors
    • It is safe to be outside in your backyard or other personal outdoor space. If riding bikes, keep your distance (6 feet) from non-household people.

FRAUD ALERT – Watch out for Scams!

  • At this time there are no FDA-approved drugs or treatments for COVID-19.
  • There are also no over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. If you get an email, phone call, offer by mail or other solicitation for these scams, hang up and ignore them.
  • This is a very important warning to reinforce for every County resident.
  • The best medical advice for you comes from your healthcare provider.

NEW YORK STATE CASES / RESTRICTIONS / GUIDANCE

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today at his 11:30 a.m. press conference there are a total 75,795 confirmed positive cases in NYS.
  • 10,929 (14 percent) COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.
  • The Governor has extended NY PAUSE program (nonessential workers down to 0 percent) until April 15; this will be evaluated every two weeks
  • New Yorkers without health insurance can apply through NY State of Health within 60 days of losing coverage.https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/
  • The President and CDC have ordered a travel advisory (NY, NJ & CT) – this is not a lock down, these federal actions support state actions to date. It is OK to be outside in your yard, ride bikes, visit a state park for walks, to take rides in your vehicle, however congregating and taking the family shopping does not comply with social distancing (keeping 6 feet from others, limiting time out in public).
March 29, 2020 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, coronavirus, notify.

The County Health Department has not yet today released the latest local figures on the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state's Health Department is reporting that Genesee County now has nine positive tests for coronavirus.

Yesterday, the county reported eight cases.

There are now 59,513 in the State of New York.

March 29, 2020 - 12:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news, notify.

20200329_142607.jpg

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 6 p.m.

A wind advisory is in effect from 2 until 11 p.m.

Winds of 20 to 30 mph expected with gusts of 50 mph.

UPDATE 2:40 p.m.: Tristine Vanice submitted the photo above taken from her backyard off Lewiston Road, Oakfield, of the storm rolling in. Thunder and rain started in Batavia few minutes ago.

March 29, 2020 - 12:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Stafford, notify.

img_1010stafford.jpg

A fuel gas leak from a vehicle parked in a garage at 5561 Clinton Street Road, Stafford, sparked a fire at about 7:50 p.m. yesterday.

Stafford Fire Chief Matt Hendershott said that a vehicle owner was working on a vehicle when the fire started. The vehicle owner and the owner of the garage managed to pull the vehicle from the building before fire crews arrived.

As a result, the vehicle owner was transported to an area hospital for evaluation of possible smoke inhalation.  

Hendershott said because the vehicle was removed from the structure, the structure did not catch fire.

Stafford fire responded with additional manpower from South Byron and Town of Batavia fire responded for traffic control.

Reader-submitted photos.

(Initial Report)

img_1012stafford.jpg

March 28, 2020 - 7:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

“One more resident in Genesee County tested positive for COVID-19 since yesterday afternoon,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “This now brings the official total to eight positive cases in Genesee County. Orleans County remains the same with four.

The individual is under the age of 65 and resides in the central part of Genesee County. The person is at home in mandatory isolation. Contact tracing has begun.

Genesee and Orleans County health officials emphasize that the public should take precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. Practice social distancing and wash your hands often.

If you are sick with any illness, the best way to keep it from spreading is to stay home!

If you have a fever, cough and/or trouble breathing, please call your health care provider for an assessment of your symptoms.

For general questions in regard to COVID-19, please contact the NYS COVID-19 Hotline at: 1-888-364-3065, or click here to ask a question electronically.

March 28, 2020 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, news, notify.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning that all elections in the state scheduled for April 28 -- village elections, the presidential primary, and the special elections -- will be held on the same day as congressional and legislative primaries in June.

This means the NY-27 special election will be held on the same day as party primaries for the NY-27.

This means the GOP's candidate for the NY-27, Chris Jacobs, will also be facing primary challenges from two or three other Republican candidates.  

The Democratic special election candidate is Nate McMurray. He has not specifically announced a candidacy in the primary nor have any other Democrats announced a primary campaign.

This is a developing story and we'll provide more information when available.

March 27, 2020 - 10:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.
Video Sponsor

There are seven residents of Genesee County who are currently trying to recover from coronavirus -- three of them are hospitalized -- and none of them, according to the County Health Department, had contact with each other.

During a briefing, today, Paul Pettit, director of public health, acknowledged that that fact pattern indicates widespread community transmission in Western New York.

Of the seven cases, we don't know where any of the individuals contracted COVID-19, be it in Genesee County, a neighboring county, or elsewhere in New York State but what we do know is they didn't give it to each other.

That makes social distancing critically important in controlling the spread of the potentially fatal disease.

"We're all in this together and one of the things we are hearing is folks are not complying with social distancing," Pettit said. "We're hearing that folks are just out and about and not hearing the recommendations, the guidelines, and so, unfortunately, these extreme mitigation techniques may linger longer. The more adherent we are and the better we do at following these guidelines the sooner we can get out of this out of the way and get back to normal life."

Coronavirus is all around us.

Erie County: 219 total cases, 85 new in the past 24 hours.

  • Livingston County, three total cases
  • Monroe County, 160 total cases, 21 new
  • Wyoming County, seven total cases.
  • Orleans County, four total cases

In Genesee County, 17 people are under precautionary quarantine and 34 people are under mandatory quarantine.

Not all of the people under quarantine were placed there because they had local contact with a positive case. Some of them had contact with a person in another county.

In New York, there are now 44,635 positive cases and 6,481. That's more confirmed cases in New York than any country in the world.

The countries that have had the most success in battling coronavirus -- such as Germany and South Korea -- have used aggressive contract tracing, social isolation, and testing.

Health workers in our county are working hard, Pettit said, to identify contacts positive cases had with other people. If any of those people were in a large group of people -- such as in a story or at an event -- that information would be released. If that information isn't released -- and it hasn't been -- Pettit said, that indicates the people who tested positive had more one-on-one contacts than any large-group contact.

At least for the period of symptoms that is included in the contract tracing protocol.

Pettit said local staff is working long hours on contact tracing and individuals who have come within six feet of a known positive case are being placed under mandatory quarantine.

However, the department is following state guidelines and only looking for contacts with positive patients going back to the first day of symptoms. A person who contracts COVID-19 can be infectious for days, if not two weeks, before becoming symptomatic.

Pettit's advice in this situation: act as if you've been infected or people around you are infected. People on social media worry too much about where a person who has tested positive might live or where they might have been. That's ignoring the fact that you can be exposed to COVID-19 anywhere at any time.

"We do have community spread in both Orleans and Genesee counties, which means you can literally get it from anywhere," Pettit said. "It's not important to know exactly where a person (who tests positive) is from. We all move around. It's just important to maintain the six-foot separation and the other recommendations that are out there."

If there is a major increase in hospitalized cases, United Memorial Medical Center is ready, said Dan Ireland, the hospital's CEO.

The hospital has canceled elective surgeries, freed up bed space, implemented telehealth calls where possible, established a drive-thru area for triage, identified areas to create bed space, and has plans phases one, two, and three of increases in capacity if needed.

The hospital can currently handle about 80 patients for COVID-19 treatment.

Most hospitalized patients, Ireland indicated, won't need a "negative pressure" rooms, which is a room to a person who is coughing and sneezing a lot, which means they are spraying an aerosol of COVID-19 into the room, and the building, they're in. And only a minority of hospitalized patients will have such difficulty breathing that they will need a ventilator.

If needed for a phase two surge expansion, the hospital could add 45 beds for patients.

Right now, the hospital could expand to about 12 negative pressure rooms.

"That could go as high as fifteen with our current supply of equipment," Ireland said. "So it is a moving target because if we can get more negative pressure fans with the filters on than we can convert rooms as we need to."

As for ventilators -- the most important piece of equipment needed to save the lives of the most seriously ill patients -- there are currently seven ventilators for more serious cases available and ten for less serious cases plus the hospital has access to two more if needed, plus there are five or six anesthesiology units that can be converted to ventilators if needed.

Multiple readers of The Batavian have asked about sewing homemade masks to distribute.

For protective measures for health care personal, those masks will be inadequate, both Pettit and Ireland indicated. Even N95 masks, which some local people and companies might have in reserve, might not meet medical needs because of the need for custom fitting.

However, that doesn't mean donations aren't appreciated. Standards may change and supplies run low; and, as for the rest of us wearing masks, Pettit didn't rule that out but said the best course of action remains to follow the protocols for staying at home as much as possible and social distancing.

"We've got to be careful with masks," Pettit said. "Having a mask on or any barrier is better than none ... (but) the recommendation is still not to be walking around and wearing masks. The recommendation is to stay home, help mitigate, keep six feet away from people, and the mask and wearing them is not going to be as vital."

March 27, 2020 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, notify, live stream, video, coronavirus.
Video Sponsor

Scheduled for 4 p.m.: Genesee County's COVID-19 Briefing for March 27, 2020

UPDATE: Paul Pettit, health director, just announced there are now seven positive cases in Genesee County, which means in the past 24 hours, there are three additional people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Three people are hospitalized. Yesterday, there were two.

UPDATE: Here's the written briefing from the Department of Health.

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received three new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of seven positive cases;
    • One over the age of 65 residing in central Genesee County;
    • One over the age of 65 residing in central Genesee County;
    • One person under the age of 65 residing in Western Genesee County;
    • Currently three of the seven positive cases under mandatory isolation are in the hospital;
    • None of the new positive cases were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic; and are not believed to be connected.
  • For Orleans: No new positive cases have been reported today.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all the new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms becomes present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated. Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus. When, and if, there is a situation where potential contact is made in a public location where contact tracing doesn’t have actual names we will send out a media announcement to help seek contacts.

Cumulative Data

  • To Date:Genesee County has received 75 negative test results and Orleans County has received 74 negative test results for COVID-19. These negative tests give us a good indicator of what’s going on in our community. As discussed before, Flu continues to be prevalent with eight in Orleans and 22 in Genesee for the week ending 3/14. This data continues to show a high number of respiratory illness in our counties is not COVID-19
  • Orleans County: Six people are under precautionary quarantine, eight people are under mandatory quarantine, and four people are under mandatory isolation, one of whom is hospitalized and three are recovering at home (one out of county).
  • Genesee County: 17 people are under precautionary quarantine, 34 people are under mandatory quarantine, and four people are recovering under mandatory isolation at home and three people are under mandatory isolation and are hospitalized.
  • Healthcare providers are advising patients undergoing swabbing that are symptomatic (based on availability and screening for high-risk) for COVID-19 to self-isolate until test results are received and COVID-19 is ruled out. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
  • Currently, NYS clearance protocol for discontinuation of mandatory isolation for persons with confirmed COVID-19 is the following: it has been at least seven days since the initial positive test for COVID-19, at least three days without fever and no use of fever-reducing medication, improvement in the signs and symptoms of the illness and two negative swabs at least 24 hours apart. Swabbing through the Health Departments is warranted as part of our quarantine/isolation protocol for those who become symptomatic.We are not providing community testing at this time. We will be announcing further information on this as local capacity increases.
  • Please remain home if ill, with all of the directives regarding social distancing that are still be in place, especially if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to limit physical contact. Flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. Do not be afraid of people because they may be coughing or sneezing, they may have allergies, but continue to keep your distance (at least 6 feet).
  • Respect / Social Responsibility / Fear mongering / Consequences – A reminder Genesee and Orleans Counties are small counties where just about everyone "knows your name," with that in mind the Health Departments are mandated to adhere to HIPAA regulations, therefore, we are not releasing potential identifying information of anyone who is under our care.
    • If during contact tracing there is an issue of missing potential contacts we will provide locations. Not everyone who coughs or sneezes has a respiratory virus. People need to be respectful of the process and the guidance surrounding social distancing. COVID-19 is now community transmissible, therefore people need to take social distancing seriously.
    • There are consequences for not adhering to the directives. Noncompliance may prolong the spread of COVID-19 as well as increasing the spread which can overwhelm our healthcare systems.
    • Sticking to the basics, limiting exposure to the public, frequent handwashing, staying home if ill with any respiratory illness, keeping 6 feet distance from other people and sharing creative ideas to keep in touch with family and friends are what we need. 
    • Talking about who has or hasn’t been tested, is sick or sharing rumors about anything COVID-19 is increasing anxiety in many people. Be respectful and stay home as much as possible. It is safe to go outside or for a ride, but be mindful to keep at least 6’ distance between other people.

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • Community Spread: Locations of positive cases are not indicative (telling) of where potential exposures can occur. It is not vital to know locations as the virus is considered to be everywhere. That is why we encourage everyone to continue with social distancing, frequent handwashing, proper cough/sneeze hygiene and frequent disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Medical Concerns: If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are in higher-risk categories – elderly and immune-compromised and those with underlying health issues.
    • Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.
  • Snowbirds are returning to our counties: They may have returned from areas not hit as hard as New York, may have been exposed while out of state, and/or are members of the higher-risk population (over 65 / underlying health issues) we encourage you to self-isolate and monitor your health. 
    • If you become symptomatic, call your healthcare provider for guidance.
    • Some may be concerned about exposure when going for supplies and prescription refills – many stores and pharmacies are providing special hours for seniors and people with underlying healthcare issues. There are also several stores/restaurants that provide curbside pick-up and delivery services call ahead and ask.
    • Check-in with family and friends and your social networks via phone or electronic means often to limit loneliness.
  • Toilet Paper: A reminder that flushing non-traditional toilet paper, such as tissues, paper towels, baby wipes and more will more than likely cause plumbing issues. On-site septic systems and public sewers are not built to handle these types of materials and will cause problems. If you are using nontraditional products as toilet paper, they are to be thrown in the trash receptacles.

FRAUD ALERT

  • At this time there are no FDA-approved drugs or treatments for COVID-19.
  • There are also no over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. If you get an email, phone call, offer by mail or other solicitation for these scams, hang up and ignore them.
  • This is a very important warning to reinforce for every County resident.
  • The best medical advice for you comes from your healthcare provider.

NEW YORK STATE CASES / RESTRICTIONS / GUIDANCE

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today at his 11:30 a.m. press conference there are 16,272 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 44,635 positive cases in New York State.
  • 6,481 (15 percent) COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.
  • In today’s Governor’s briefing, he stated schools are to remain closed for another two weeks and will be reassessed then. Locally our schools are monitoring the local impact and making decisions on a week-by-week basis as to when schools will reopen. Continue to follow your local school guidance.
March 27, 2020 - 2:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tops Markets, news, batavia, notify.

New York has delayed its plastic bag ban because of the coronavirus crisis until May 15 and Tops in Batavia is allowing customers the option of plastic bags, a spokeswoman for the grocery store chain said.

"Tops is temporarily not enforcing (the plastic bag ban) in order to help with sanitation concerns surrounding reusable bags and COVID-19," Kathleen A. Sautter said. "If a customer brings in a reusable bag and does not bag their own groceries themselves, the cashier will then bag their groceries in either a plastic or paper bag free of charge. This procedure will be rolled out at all of our stores until further notice."

UPDATE: This morning (March 27), Tops spokeswoman Kathleen A. Sautter corrected the information she provided Friday to say that paper bags will cost customers 5 cents each, but plastic will be free.

March 27, 2020 - 2:22pm

Press release:

More than 80,500 initial Unemployment Insurance claims were filed last week, and overall claims increased by more than 520 percent over the past year, according to statistics released Thursday (March 26) by the New York State Department of Labor.

The claims data for New York State for the week ending March 21 --  the first week in which claims were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic -- show an increase by a minimum of 284 percent in each of New York’s 10 labor market regions.

Additional information about New York State’s UI claims, including regional and industry, will be forthcoming.

From Monday, March 16 to Saturday, March 21, the New York State Department of Labor received more than 1,734,100 total calls and over 2,270,300 web hits.

DOL has taken a number of steps to address this unprecedented increase in call volume and web traffic, including implementing a new, more efficient filing system based on the first letter of the applicant's last name (alphabetical order):

A  - F : Monday
G – N : Tuesday
O – Z : Wednesday
Missed your day: Thursday through Saturday

The New York State Department of Labor is dedicated to ensuring that every New Yorker who is entitled to UI benefits will receive all benefits due. New Yorkers seeking to file UI claims can visit labor.ny.gov or call the Telephone Claim Center at 1-888-783-1370.

March 26, 2020 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, notify, covid-19, coronavirus.

Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported today by the Genesee County Health Department and the department is also reporting that two people with coronavirus are now hospitalized.

It's unclear from the news release if the two new positives are the two cases hospitalized or if one of the previous positive cases (there were two as of yesterday) is now hospitalized.

One of the new positives is under age 65 and resides in the central part of Genesee County. The second positive case is over age 65 and also resides in the central part of Genesee County. Based on the investigation so far, these cases are not connected.

Contact tracing has been started on both new positive cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine. People placed on mandatory quarantine must remain in quarantine for 14 days. If they become symptomatic, they are tested for COVID-19.

If the test is positive, the patient is placed in mandatory isolation. If two tests come back negative, the mandatory quarantine is lifted; however, ill patients are still expected to avoid contact with other people.

In Genesee County, there are 18 people under precautionary quarantine and 26 people are under mandatory quarantine.

Yesterday, there were 21 people under mandatory quarantine.

It's unknown if any of the people who were previously placed under mandatory quarantine are among the new positive cases.

There have been 61 negative test results in Genesee County.

The Health Department does not provide a breakout of how many people have been tested by the Health Department and how many have been tested by private health providers. Most of the tests being conducted are being conducted by private providers, we have been told previously.

Private providers are required to instruct patients who are tested to self-quarantine until test results are returned. If the result is negative, the patient is asked to continue to self-quarantine for until a total of 14 days have been reached from the last date of travel or last exposure.

Orleans County has one new positive case in the past 24 hours with four people total in mandatory isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, and one of those cases is hospitalized.

In Wyoming County, there are seven positive cases but one resident is out of the county and had no close contacts with anybody in Wyoming County.

The full press release:

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m. today:
    • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19
    • Orleans County received one new positive case.
  • For Genesee: One positive case is under the age of 65 and resides in the central part of Genesee County. The second positive case is over the age of 65 and also resides in the central part of the county. Based on the ongoing investigation, these cases are not connected. These two individuals are under mandatory isolation and are in the hospital.
  • For Orleans: The new positive case is under the age of 65 and is a resident of the central part of the county. This individual is being isolated in an adjacent county
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for all the new cases. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms becomes present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the County Health Department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed if indicated.

Cumulative Data

  • To Date: Genesee County has received 61 negative test results and Orleans County has received 61 negative test results for COVID-19.
  • Orleans County: Six people are under precautionary quarantine, eight people are under mandatory quarantine, and four people are under mandatory isolation one of whom is hospitalized and three are recovering at home (one out of county).
  • Genesee County: 18 people are under precautionary quarantine, 26 people are under mandatory quarantine, and two people are under mandatory isolation at home and two people are under mandatory isolation and are hospitalized.
  • Healthcare providers must advise patients undergoing testing for COVID-19 to self-isolate until testing is resulted and COVID-19 is ruled out.
    • If COVID-19 testing results are positive, patients must be continued on mandatory isolation as noted below:
    • IF a patient was on mandatory or precautionary quarantine when tested and results for COVID-19 are negative, healthcare providers must advise patients to continue quarantine until 14 days after last travel or exposure to a known case (per public authorities).
    • If a patient was not previously on quarantine and was tested for illness consistent with COVID-19, once the result is negative and COVID-19 is ruled out, the patient may be advised that they need not be on quarantine.
  • Currently, NYS clearance protocol for discontinuation of mandatory isolation for persons with confirmed COVID-19 is the following: it has been at least seven days since the initial positive test for COVID-19, at least three days without fever and no use of fever-reducing medication, improvement in the signs and symptoms of the illness and two negative swabs at least 24-hours apart. Swabbing through the Health Departments is warranted as part of our quarantine / isolation protocol for those who become symptomatic. We are not providing community testing at this time.
  • Please remain home if ill, with all of the directives regarding social distancing that are still be in place, especially if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to limit physical contact. The flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. Do not be afraid of people because they may be coughing or sneezing, they may have allergies, but continue to keep your distance (at least 6 feet).

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are at higher risk categories – elderly and immune compromised and those with underlying health issues.
  • Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.

RETURNING SNOWBIRDS / Those at Higher-Risk

  • We encourage people to seek creative ways to keep in touch, especially for those who are returning home from their winter residences and those who are older and/or have underlying health conditions. If you have access to the internet there are several applications that you can use for free to "connect" with family and friends.

NEW YORK STATE CASES / RESTRICTIONS / GUIDANCE

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today at his 11:30 a.m. press conference there are 6,448 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 37,258 positive cases in New York State.
  • 5,327 (14 percent) COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.
  • NYS is seeking volunteers to work as part of the state’s surge healthcare force, so far 40,000 have volunteered. To volunteer go to: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/get-involved-how-you-can-help
March 25, 2020 - 6:55pm

The immigration court in Batavia -- at the Buffalo Detention Facility -- hasn't been slowed by coronavirus, and that is upsetting attorneys who must represent clients there, even though court personnel may already have contracted COVID-19.

Emma L. Buckthal, supervising immigration attorney for the Erie County Bar Association, contacted The Batavian to raise concerns she and other attorneys share. She said rather than suspending the court's master calendar, as all state and federal courts have done, and even some immigration courts, the immigration court in Batavia still expects attorneys and clients to show up for hearings. There are limited provisions for telephonic appearances, Buckthal noted.

She shared a letter from an attorney who said a judge directed his clerk to instruct an attorney to fly in for a court appearance, after denying a telephonic hearing, and the clerk reportedly commented that she didn't understand why people are upset about COVID-19.

"I survived Chernobyl," she reportedly said.

This seemed particularly insensitive to the attorney, she said, because she believed that an immigration judge, an attorney, and a member of court staff have all contracted coronavirus.

While the full docket is in place, Buckthal said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) staff is denying attorneys the ability to meet with clients, which is necessary to get signatures for court papers, unless the attorneys bring their own personal protective gear (gloves, goggles, and a mask), which, she said, "we do not have and should be conserving for doctors anyway."

"We have no meaningful access to clients, so we can't adequately prepare their cases," she added. "We also can't bring witnesses to the detention center."

Telephonic appearances by attorneys can prevent newly written motions from being filed during the hearing, according to government guidelines. For example, if one attorney is present and the other isn't, and the attorney who is present files a document, then the attorney on the telephone cannot object to the document since the attorney on the phone can't review the document.

Buckthal said the court ordered one trial to go ahead with an attorney on the telephone who is quarantined and symptomatic.

"We are beyond concerned about the public health risk of this situation, and about the lack of due process for our clients," she said.

Buckthal claims that a group of detainees was transferred from the Bergen, N.J., facility to Batavia on March 12. Yesterday, ICE confirmed one detainee at the Bergen facility has tested positive for COVID-19. Today, ICE reported that a staff member at a contract facility in Elizabeth, N.J., tested positive.

The National Association of Immigration Judges, a labor union, along with groups representing prosecutors and defense attorneys, has called on the DOJ to close all immigration courts

The court is supervised by the Department of Justice. Asked for a comment, a DOJ spokesman provided the following statement:

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has been carefully reviewing the information available from local, state, regional, and federal officials related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency continues to evaluate the dynamic situation nationwide and will make decisions for each location as more information becomes available.  Through April 10, 2020, immigration courts have postponed all non-detained hearings, and some immigration courts are closed.

Updates to the operational status of the immigration courts will be announced via Twitter (@DOJ_EOIR) and Facebook (Executive Office for Immigration Review) and on our website.

Please also see EOIR’s policy memoranda: 20-10: Immigration Court Practices During the Declared National Emergency Concerning the COVID-19 Outbreak, and the 20-10 addendum, and the standing order on telephonic appearances pertaining to the Batavia Immigration Court.

We continue to urge our employees and stakeholders to follow CDC guidance regarding hygiene practices.

The detention facility and the court do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Genesee County Health Department.

March 25, 2020 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, notify, coronavirus.

A person under the age of 65 from the central part of Genesee County has tested positive for COVID-19, according to information just released by the Health Department, and is in isolation recovering at home.

There are now two positive cases in Genesee County with the other person, who tested positive nearly a week ago, also recovering at home.

Contact tracing has been initiated on the new case. Known contacts are already under mandatory quarantine.

The press release says that if the known contacts are symptomatic they will be tested for COVID-19 but does not indicate if any of them are symptomatic.

A total of 16 people are under mandatory quarantine in Genesee County, down from 21 yesterday, and 18 people are under precautionary quarantine.

Since the onset of testing, there have been 49 negative test results in Genesee County.

State rules require that a person placed under mandatory quarantine who was symptomatic must have two negative swab tests before being released from quarantine.

There have been people in Genesee County who were symptomatic but were released from mandatory quarantine after negative test results.

Health Department officials continue to ask people who are feeling ill to stay home. Besides COVID-19, the flu is still prevalent in the community.

Here is the county press release:

SITUATIONAL UPDATE

  • As of 2 p.m. today Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
  • The positive case is under the age of 65 and resides in the central part of Genesee County. The individual is under mandatory isolation and is recovering at home.
  • Contact tracing has been initiated for the new case. Known contacts have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated (if symptoms present). If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the Genesee County Health Department.
  • Since the onset of testing, Genesee County has received 49 negative test results and Orleans, 52 negative test results for COVID-19.
  • Orleans County: Six people are under precautionary quarantine; seven people are under mandatory quarantine; and three people are under mandatory isolation, one of whom is hospitalized and two are recovering at home.
  • Genesee County: 18 people are under precautionary quarantine; 16 people are under mandatory quarantine; and two people are under mandatory isolation at home where they are recovering.
  • As we receive more test results, local contact tracing will continue within our departments for any positive results. The cases and stories are being built and documented. Contact tracing is initiated based on the day the identified positive case became symptomatic. Identified contacts are notified by the local health department, quarantined and if warranted, swabbed as indicated.
  • Currently, NYS clearance criteria require two negative COVID-19 swabbing results prior to being released. Swabbing through the Health Departments is warranted as part of our quarantine/isolation protocol for those who become symptomatic. We are not providing community testing at this time.
  • Please remain home if ill, with all of the directives regarding social distancing that are still be in place, especially if a person has a negative COVID-19 result it is important to limit physical contact. The flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. Do not be afraid of people because they may be coughing or sneezing, they may have allergies, but continue to keep your distance (at least 6 feet away).

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • If you feel you may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. DO NOT GO DIRECTLY THERE, CALL AHEAD TO GET GUIDANCE. Swabbing will be based on those who are at higher risk categories – elderly and immune-compromised and those with underlying health issues.
  • Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential COVID-19, self-isolation is strongly encouraged until the test result is received.

RETURNING SNOWBIRDS

  • Due to the number of positive cases in New York State, there are stricter guidelines in place and may be different from your winter address. All large gatherings have been canceled or postponed. We strongly encourage anyone over 65 or those with underlying health issues to consider self-quarantine which means to limit contact with others as much as possible. Stay at home as much as possible as this age group is one of the higher-risk groups. This includes visiting the grocery store to limit exposure to any respiratory virus. Check with your grocery store/pharmacy to see if they have special considerations for seniors and those with underlying health issues such as special hours, curbside pickup or delivery. Monitor your symptoms and if you develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your primary care provider immediately.
  • If you are in need of household essentials such as groceries or prescriptions, ask a family member, neighbor, someone in your social support network for assistance. They may be able to shop for your needs and leave the items outside your door so they do not have any physical contact with you.

UPDATE: An additional press release from the health department:

“Today the Genesee County Health Department received confirmation of a second positive case of COVID-19 in Genesee County” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “The individual is in mandatory isolation where they are recovering.” The individual is under the age of 65 and resides in the central part of Genesee County.

“Public health nurses and our epidemiology team have notified the individual who tested positive for coronavirus and has placed them in mandatory isolation,” Pettit explained. “Contact tracing has been underway to notify individuals who may have had close contact with the positive case. Close contact is defined as 6 feet in proximity.” The County Health Department is placing close contacts in mandatory quarantine to monitor them for COVID-19 symptoms, which include fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath.

While our community is understandably anxious, please know the Health Department is working diligently to complete these investigations as quickly as possible. If you have questions in regard to travel or symptoms, please contact the New York State Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065.

March 25, 2020 - 12:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Le Roy.

Amanda S. McDonald, 26, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, is charged with making unreasonable noise. She was arrested at 9:13 p.m. on March 13 after she allegedly played unreasonably loud music at her residence, an upstairs apartment in the 100 block of Ellsworth Avenue, which "could be heard several houses away." McDonald was processed, issued an appearance ticket for Batavia City Court, and she is due there on March 31. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Wesley Rissinger, assisted by Officer Adam Tucker.

Derrick Roy Kio, 29, of North Road, Le Roy, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. The defendant was arrested at 12:45 p.m. on March 19 on North Road in Le Roy after he asked law enforcement for help in removing a person from his residence who was not welcome there. Upon arrival, it was discovered that an order of protection was in place directing Kio to stay away from the other person and that they had been living together for quite some time, in violation of the order of protection. He was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Le Roy and is due there May 11. The case was handled Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Erion.

Josie R. Panepinto, 18, of Ellicott Avenue, Batavia, is charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Panepinto was arrested after allegedly damaging another person's property during a domestic incident at 8:45 p.m. on Maple Street in Batavia. The defendant was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on May 19. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Miah Stevens.

Douglas J. Taylor, 31, of Church Street, Medina, is charged with petit larceny and possession of a hypodermic instrument. At 11:11 a.m. on March 20, Douglas was arrested on the charges at the Dollar General Store on East Main Street in Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket to be in Batavia City Court on May 19. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Quider, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Taylor L. Finnin, 27, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of drug paraphernalia in the second degree. Finnin was arrested at 3:49 p.m. March 12 on Swan Street in Batavia. The defendant was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on March 24. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Connor Borchert, assisted by Officer Wesley Rissinger.

Daniel G. Cherry Jr., 22, of Middle Road, Munnsville, and John R. Gorton (no age or residence provided) are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree. They were arrested at 1:12 a.m. on March 14 in the Eastown Plaza parking lot on East Main Street in Batavia after a complaint of two males smoking marijuana in a vehicle. Both men were issued appearance tickets then released from custody. They are due in Batavia City Court on March 31. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Alec Roberts, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis.

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