COVID-19 cases continue to slowly decline

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COVID-19 cases are continuing to slowly, but steadily, decline in the county, region and state, according to figures released on Thursday by the state Department of Health.

There were 7,953 positive cases reported across New York on Thursday, with a positivity rate of 2.81% — the lowest positivity rate since the week prior to Thanksgiving. There were 5,177 patient sospitalizations statewide — the lowest since Dec. 9, 2020.

There were 60 COVID-19 deaths in New York on Thursday, bringing the total to 38,796 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“New Yorkers have embodied the definition of New York Tough through this past year and we need to maintain our vigilance to win this war on COVID,” said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. “As we continue this battle, we cannot get complacent. There are precautions and guidelines in place that we know work — wearing masks, socially distancing, hand washing, and, when eligible, getting vaccinated. As we continue to vaccinate New Yorkers, we must continue these practices until we reach critical mass. The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, and every day we are closer to reaching the end of this journey together.” 

In Oneida County, there were 32 new positive cases for the 24-hour period as of midnight on March 3. There are 570 active positive cases. There was one new COVID-19 related death reported for a total of 397.

There were 31 patients hospitalized in Oneida County with three at Rome Heath and 28 at Mohawk Valley Health System. Of the 31 patients, four are nursing home residents. There are three patients hospitalized out of the county.

• Meanwhile, the state Assembly on Thursday continued work on passing a series of bills to increase safety and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers living in nursing homes. The bills included in the package address issues including quality improvements, visitation, oversight, transparency and immunity from liability.  

“This legislative package will go a long way to increase the safety and protect the well being of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Speaker Carl Heastie, of New York City. “We owe it to our nursing home residents and their families to do better.”

The bills included in the package address issues including quality improvements, visitation, oversight, transparency and immunity from liability.  

The legislative package would create the Reimagining Long-Term Care Task Force with advocates from across the long-term care system. The task force would be required to study and produce a report to the governor and Legislature on the state of long-term care services and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including staffing shortages, visitation bans, and infection control protocols and enforcement.

Tthe Assembly on Wednesday passed a measure that would allow exemptions for personal care visitors and enhanced compassionate care visitation during declared local or state health emergencies.

Another bill the Assembly intends to pass would prohibit granting of new for-profit nursing home licenses or expanding the capacity of existing for-profit nursing homes, which data shows do worse on staffing, infection control and other quality indicators and have higher rates of patient deaths despite costing more for care.

The package also includes the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Reform Act to increase the effectiveness of the program, strengthen communication between ombudsmen and the agencies that are responsible for licensing or certifying long-term care facilities, and include ombudsmen within a residential care facility’s pandemic emergency plans.

Another bill in the package would repeal Article 30-D of the Public Health Law, also known as the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, to ensure that health care facilities, administrators and executives are held accountable for harm and damages incurred, lawmakers said, and signficantly reduce current protections against lawsuits.

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