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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

March 24, 2020 - 9:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Six days ago, there were 10 people under mandatory quarantine in Genesee County to help prevent the possible spread of coronavirus and today there are 21 people under mandatory quarantine.

Not all of the people who were part of that group of 10 are still under mandatory quarantine, according to the Health Department. Some of those people tested negative for COVID-19.

Nola Goodrich-Kresse, a public information officer for the Genesee/Orleans Health Department, said the exact number of people under mandatory quarantine who tested negative and were removed from quarantine is not available. We've never had an exact count of the number of people under mandatory quarantine who are also symptomatic. But everybody who is symptomatic and had contact with a known COVID-19 patient has been tested.

For some, results have not yet returned from one of the New York State labs.

If a person had direct contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, that person is placed, by order of the public health director, under mandatory quarantine.

Not everybody under mandatory quarantine is symptomatic.

In the current group of 21, not all necessarily had contact with the one known case in Genesee County.

Through contact tracing, multiple people were identified as possible direct contacts with that one positive case.

If they are not symptomatic, they must remain in quarantine for 14 days. If they remain symptom-free through that two-week period, they are released from quarantine.

People who tested negative but are ill are asked to avoid contact with other people because they might be contagious with another bug.

Swabs are sent to state labs by both the health department -- from those mandatory quarantines -- and from private providers, who don't have the authority to order mandatory quarantines but are expected to direct their patients to self-quarantine. 

So far, there have been 44 negative test results for COVID-19 for residents of Genesee County. Goodrich-Kresse said there is no way to differentiate the source of those tests.

The health of the one person who tested positive is improving, according to health department officials.

For today's health department briefing, published earlier, click here.

March 24, 2020 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, notify, coronvirus.

SITUATIONAL UPDATE:

  • As of 2 p.m. today the lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 are now two new positives for Orleans County and still one confirmed case for Genesee County. We have the initial one confirmed case of COVID-19 identified in Genesee County and now have three confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Orleans County. Since the onset of testing, Genesee County has received 44 negative test results, and Orleans 43 negative test results, for COVID-19.
  • Orleans County: Four people are under precautionary quarantine; 13 people are under mandatory quarantine; and three people are under mandatory isolation -- one of whom is hospitalized and two are recovering at home. The new positive cases reside in the center part of the county and are not associated. One of the individuals is over 65 and the other is younger than 65. The contact tracing has been initiated for the new cases. Known contacts to these two cases have already been placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if indicated. If a person is identified as a contact, they will be notified by the Health Department.
  • Genesee County: Seven people are under precautionary quarantine; 21 people are under mandatory quarantine; and one person (positive case) is under mandatory isolation at home and is recovering.
  • “We will start to see our numbers increase moving forward. We expect to see an increase in local cases due to increased swabbing and testing as this is in line with the reality of community spread,” said Paul Pettit, director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.
  • As we receive more test results, local contact tracing will continue within our departments. The cases and stories are being built and documented. Contact tracing is determined the day the identified positive case had symptoms. 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.
  • A reminder as discussed last week. We are placing individuals on quarantine and isolation from the health department but individuals will also be asked by their provider to self-isolate if they have been swabbed until the results come back. Once the county receives test results from the state (whether the swabbing occurred at primary care provider or through contact with the health department) it is then determined whether the individual remains on quarantine, released or is changed to mandatory isolation (for positive swab results) per the NYS guidance. This is very important. Number one, the person tested because they were symptomatic, that’s why they’re being swabbed, and secondly, we don’t want the person exposing others to illness (COVID-19 or otherwise). 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. 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).
  • This week, United Memorial Medical Center completed the assembly and installation of a series of tents outside the hospital's Emergency Department. This is a multi-tent system that will act as an extension of their primary care offices. Additional details will follow as the project progresses.
  • On Monday, March 23rd, hospitals in NYS were mandated to increase their capacity by 50 percent; although, the Governor urged hospitals to consider increasing their capacity by 100 percent.
  • Phone banks have been set up in both counties to assist with the overflow of calls. Callers will be asked about the nature of their call and the staff will triage and forward the calls as appropriate. We encourage businesses, to contact the Department of Labor if they have questions about their business operations.

OPERATIONAL UPDATES

  • COVID-19 swabbing/testing at the Health Departments and community continues to be limited. 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. We will be screening and focusing on our at-risk populations – elderly and immune-compromised and those with underlying health issues. Primary care providers and some health systems are offering testing in both Monroe and Erie counties.  We’re still waiting on more public/private labs to sign-on soon along with swabbing kits.
  • Lab testing has been bogged down and sample results are coming back slowly. Again this is a source of frustration for the public and us. We continue to push these unacceptable issues back up to the state.
  • We are asking individuals to follow the orders that are put out there. If you believe an employer is violating either existing labor laws or recently issued @NYGocCuomo executive orders, please contact the @NewYorkStateAG's office at (212) 416-8700 or [email protected].

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2020/attorney-general-james-urges-employees-file-complaints-against-employers-ignoring

NEW YORK STATE CASES / RESTRICTIONS / GUIDANCE

  • As of March 24, 2020, at 11 a.m. according to Governor Andrew Cuomo there are 4,790 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 25,665 in New York State.
  • Monroe County: 96 confirmed cases in Monroe County.
  • Erie County: 107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Erie County.
  • Wyoming County: Four Confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Niagara County: 12 Confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Effective Saturday, March, 21st beginning at 8 p.m., all personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, and tattoo/piercing parlors in NYS will be mandated to close. These professions cannot conduct business while maintaining social distancing.
  • On Friday, March 20, 2020, Cuomo announced that he will sign an executive order mandating that 100 percent of the workforce must stay home (excluding essential services). This order excludes healthcare, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.
  • Civil fines and mandatory closures for a business that are not in compliance will be issued.
  • DOH Test Kits are NOT available. More information will be forthcoming when we receive notice.
  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is in extremely short supply with no guidance as to when more will be supplied.
  • Gatherings with 50 people or more are not permitted for the next eight weeks.
  • Enacting Matilda’s Law to protect New Yorkers age 70+ and those with compromised immune systems:
    • Remain indoors;
    • Can go outside for solitary exercise;
    • Prescreen all visitors by taking their temperature;
    • Wear a mask in the company of others;
    • Stay at least 6 feet from others;
    • Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary.

GENERAL HEALTH REMINDERS / INFORMATION

Flu – for the week ending March 14: Orleans -- 8 flu that week and 257 for the season; Genesee – 22 cases of flu and 588 for the season! Statewide cases during this time frame 6,075 with total NYS cases for the season to date, 153,293. Compared to COVID-19 the risk of the flu and what many people may be experiencing is higher.

We are receiving back negative COVID-19 test results from the lab, but we are still having flu – more flu and other respiratory illness as we look at the data. Keep this in mind. Everyone should be social distancing and staying home.

  • Mental Health in both counties are available in various capacities and the Care + Crisis.

The helpline is available 24/7 at 585-283-5200 or text 741741 for anxiety and stress.

  • Be alert to scams…there are no FDA-approved at-home test kits for COVID-19.
  • Please refer to the county websites for current daily updates and guidance documents. Orleans County’s website is still down, so we ask to visit the Genesee County website or follow GOHealthNY (user names) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are also providing updates on the Genesee Ready and Orleans Aware apps.
  • Remember that if you are sick to call your primary care provider. If you must go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care – call ahead so they can prepare for your arrival.

Continue Social Distancing and daily hygiene practices:

  • Hand Hygiene. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds OR use of hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol;
  • Stay 6 feet away from others;
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when sick;
  • Avoid crowded places;
  • Canceling events/closure of public spaces;
  • Encourage people to take care of themselves to take care of their immune systems:
    • Eat healthy – fruits & vegetables, whole grains, low fat meats, etc.;
    • Get plenty of rest;
    • Drink plenty of water;
    • Stop smoking or abusing drugs and alcohol, seek appropriate help;
    • Limit media time to help decrease stress;
    • Keep in contact with older family members by phone, Face Time, cards and letters if you can’t visit in person;
    • Take time for walks, play outside, do puzzles, help keep you children engaged with their studies;
    • Start or continue a hobby.

Vulnerable / Priority Populations

  • Older adults (65 years of age and older) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.
  • Underlying medical conditions may include but are not limited to:
    • Chronic lung disease or asthma
    • Diabetes
    • Weakened immune system
    • Chemotherapy or radiation for cancer
  • Women who are pregnant
    If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:
  • Stay home as much as possible. (Rely on help to get groceries/necessities such as prescriptions so you do not have to go out in public). Talk with your healthcare provider about providing 90-day prescription orders and ask your pharmacist if you can refill early to limit trips out in public.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
  • Keep away from others who are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid nonessential travel
  • Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor.
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wearing a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses. A face mask should only be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.
  • Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. Symptoms for COVID-19 are shortness of breath, dry cough, and fever.
March 23, 2020 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

The Genesee County / Orleans County Health Department is ceasing daily live briefings. The next scheduled briefing is at 4 p.m., Friday. There may be briefings during the week if there is breaking news.

Press release:

As of 2 p.m. today the lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 have not changed in Genesee and Orleans counties. We have the initial one confirmed case of COVID-19 identified in Genesee County and one confirmed case of COVID- 19 for Orleans County.

Since the onset of testing, Genesee County has received 36 negative test results and Orleans, 34 negative test results for COVID-19.

Local contact tracing continues within our departments. The cases and stories are being built and documented.

Regarding the special circumstances of the Orleans positive: Identified contacts have been notified and quarantined and swabbed as indicated. This patient became symptomatic out of state and is now in mandatory isolation at their residence in Orleans County. The patient was released from isolation from the state they were in, in line with that state’s clearance criteria.

NYS clearance criteria are currently more restrictive and require negative COVID-19 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.

Genesee County: Seven people are under precautionary quarantine, 20 people are under mandatory quarantine, and one person (positive case) is under mandatory isolation.

Orleans County: Four people are under precautionary quarantine, 10 people are under mandatory quarantine, and one person is under mandatory isolation (this is not a new positive case). As reported last week, the department continues to explore contacts related to the case and places any further contacts on mandatory quarantine as needed.

Reminder: As discussed last week, we are placing folks on quarantine and isolation from the health department but individuals will also be asked by their provider to self-isolate if they have been swabbed until the results come back. This is very important. Number one -- the person is symptomatic, that’s why they’re being swabbed; and secondly, we don’t want the person exposing others to illness (COVID-19 or otherwise). Please remain home if ill.

Young people may think this won’t affect them -- they can get COVID-19, they can spread it to vulnerable populations, and although not as likely, they can be hospitalized and possibly die from this disease, just as they can get the flu and have complications.

Young people may also have underlying health issues they may not be aware of or if they smoke / vape, etc., they are putting themselves at higher risk of severe illness. This is why all people participate in social distancing even if they are not immune-compromised. Some people are going to react to this illness differently; it is not just the older folks, (although) they do have the greater risk of dying or going to the hospital. But people of any age can have severe illness. It is still important for all to help flatten the curve.

Swabbing / Partner Information

Remember that if you are sick to call your primary care provider. If you must go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care – call ahead so they can prepare for your arrival.

COVID-19 swabbing/testing at the Health Departments and community is limited. 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.

We will be screening and focusing on our at-risk populations – elderly and immune-compromised and those with underlying health issues. Primary care providers and some health systems are offering testing in both Monroe and Erie counties. We’re still waiting on more public/private labs to sign on soon, along with swabbing kits (to become available).

Lab testing has been bogged down and sample results are coming back slowly. Again this is a source of frustration for the public and us. We continue to push these unacceptable issues back up to the state.

Due to the current limit of swabbing kits, guidelines are in place for primary care providers to order COVID-19 swabbing. We will notify how and who can be tested at testing sites once we have the capability to set them up.

We are working closely with the healthcare systems to determine capacity; healthcare systems are currently working on their plans to increase bed capacity to provide higher-level medical care as needed. We will update and provide additional information on these activities as they become available.

We are asking folks to follow the orders that are put out there. If you believe an employer is violating either existing labor laws or recently issued @NYGocCuomo executive orders, please contact the @NewYorkStateAG's office at (212) 416-8700 or [email protected] (On the web)

Schools: Parents are encouraged to communicate with their child’s school to learn about how food or other services will be provided during this time. If it is a school-related issue, please contact the school, not the health departments.

Be alert to scams -- there are no FDA-approved at-home test kits for COVID-19.

Please refer to the county websites for current daily updates and guidance documents. Orleans County’s website is still down, so we ask to visit the Genesee County website or follow GOHealthNY (user names) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We are also providing updates on the Genesee Ready and Orleans Aware apps.

Both Genesee County Buildings are closed to the public. Please call ahead to handle your business over the phone or by appointment.

Flu – for the week ending March 14: Orleans, eight flu (cases) that week and 257 for the season; Genesee, 22 cases of flu and 588 for the season!

Mental Health in both counties are available in various capacities and the Care + Crisis.

The helpline is available 24/7 at 585-283-5200; or text 741741 for anxiety and stress.

We are receiving back negative COVID-19 test results from the lab, but we are still having flu – more flu and other respiratory illness as we look at the data. Keep this in mind. Everyone should be social distancing and staying home.

Continue Social Distancing and daily hygiene practices:

  • Hand Hygiene. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds OR use hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol;
  • Stay 6 feet away from others;
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when sick;
  • Avoid crowded places;
  • Canceling events/closure of public spaces;
  • Encourage people to take care of themselves to take care of their immune systems;
  • Eat healthy – fruits & vegetables, whole grains, low fat meats, etc. Get plenty of rest;
  • Drink plenty of water;
  • Stop smoking or abusing drugs and alcohol, seek appropriate help to limit media time to help decrease stress;
  • Keep in contact with older family members by phone, Face Time, cards and letters if you can’t visit in person;
  • Take time for walks, play outside, do puzzles, help keep you children engaged with their studies;
  • Start or continue a hobby.

Vulnerable / Priority Populations:

  • Older adults (65 years of age and older) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.
  • Those with underlying medical conditions, that may include but are not limited to: chronic lung disease; asthma; diabetes; weakened immune system; chemotherapy or radiation for cancer treatment; pregnant women.

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:

  • Stay home as much as possible. (Rely on help to get groceries/necessities such as prescriptions so you do not have to go out in public.) Talk with your healthcare provider about providing 90-day prescription orders and ask your pharmacist if you can refill early to limit trips out in public;
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others;
  • Keep away from others who are sick;
  • Wash your hands often;
  • Avoid nonessential travel;
  • Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor.

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released March 18, the majority of fatalities were:

  • Persons aged 85 and older -- 10 to 27 percent;
  • Persons aged 65-84 -- 3 to 11 percent;
  • Persons aged 55-64 -- 1 to 3 percent;
  • Persons aged 20 to 54 -- less than 1 percent;
  • Persons aged 19 or younger -- no fatalities reported.

Different people react differently to illness with and without underlying health issues and age factored in.

We can’t stress it enough:

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses. A facemask should only be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.
  • Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. Symptoms for COVID-19 are shortness of breath, dry cough, and fever.

New York State Cases / Restrictions / Guidance

  • As of March 23, 2020, there are 2,950 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 15,168 in New York State.
  • At this time, roughly 18 percent of the people with COVID-19 in New York are hospitalized.
  • Monroe County: 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Erie County: 54 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Wyoming County: 2 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Niagara County: 6 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Effective as of March 21st, all personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, and tattoo/piercing parlors statewide were mandated to close. These professions cannot conduct business while maintaining social distancing.
  • On Friday, March 20, Cuomo announced that he would sign an Executive Order mandating that 100 percent of the workforce stay home (excluding essential services). This order excludes healthcare, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.
  • Civil fines and mandatory closures for businesses that are not in compliance will be issued.
  • DOH Test Kits are NOT available. More information will be forthcoming when we receive notice.
  • Personal Protective Equipment -- or PPE -- is in extremely short supply with no guidance as to when more will be supplied.
  • Gatherings with 50 people or more are not permitted for the next eight weeks.
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