County: Be vigilant on social distancing

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The number of coronavirus cases in Oneida County is rising at a pace much like what downstate New York experienced in March, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., said in his daily briefing on Wednesday.

To slow the spread, he is asking localities to close playgrounds and facilitate efforts to help get protective face shields for front-line healthcare workers and to help first-responders cope with being at risk of getting the virus.

The county on Wednesday announced nine new positive tests since the previous day, for 55 so far in all. Ten county residents remain hospitalized with the condition, including eight in hospitals in Utica and Rome and two in hospitals outside the county. Mandatory quarantine covered 358 people and 270 in precautionary quarantine for having been in close contact with people with symptoms or who were confirmed by a lab test to have it.

Picente noted that the number of cases has been doubling every two days in the past week, and that additional measures to facilitate social distancing — and increased diligence by people to practice social distancing — are necessary.

Picente said he is asking villages, town supervisors and school superintendents to close playgrounds, something already done by the cities of Rome and Utica. Open areas and walking paths are fine, Picente said, but playgrounds present risk through surfaces and by encouraging congregating.

“This disease is spreading through surfaces. You should not have your children playing where other children have been.”

In other developments, Picente said the county is contributing funds to help SUNY Polytechnic Institute to use three-dimensional print manufacturing to make parts for face shields that will be supplied to local healthcare workers.

The 3D printing labs at SUNY Poly’s Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing in Utica will be able to produce 80 face shields during normal working hours each day.

In addition, Utica College is offering space in its former residence hall Burrstone House to area first-responders who may be concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus then putting their families at risk at their homes.

Those requiring the service may contact the Utica College Office of Emergency Management at emermgt@utica.edu or 315-792-3472.

Picente again urged maintaining social distancing — at least six feet apart from non-household members — and to avoid congregating and having gatherings in the home.

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