COVID cases grow with Thanksgiving effect to come

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The number of COVID-19 cases in Oneida County continues to rise as the pandemic grows locally, in New York and nationally even before a widely expected increase from the Thanksgiving holiday.

The county reported 132 new cases on Wednesday, for 1,194 known active cases.

It was the second largest number of new cases in a day, behind only the 214 of Tuesday.

One new COVID-related death was reported, for 142 since the pandemic began.

Oneida County has escaped micro-cluster designation, but indicators are nearing thresholds set by New York state.

New York started the micro-cluster strategy Oct. 21 to try to contain localized outbreaks without imposing restrictions on gatherings and economic activity in broader geographic areas.

Clusters can consist of municipalities like villages or towns, or small geographic areas such as Census tracts or ZIP codes.

Threshold criteria vary among counties of various populations. For the mid-size counties including Oneida, the lowest level, or yellow can be triggered by a seven-day rolling average positivity rate above 3.% for seven days and 12 or more new cases a day per 100,000 residents averaged over seven days.

Oneida County provides data only on a county-wide basis. The county’s percent-positive rate averaged over a week stood at 3.3% and has been at or near 3% since about Nov. 18. The county does not normally provide a seven-day daily new-case figure but on a three-day basis it is well above the threshold.

As of Wednesday, 61 county residents with COVID were being treated in hospitals: Eight at Rome Memorial, 44 in the Mohawk Valley Health System hospitals in Utica and New Hartford, and nine in hospitals in other counties. In addition, 1,361 people were in mandatory precautionary quarantine.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the increase in cases and hospitalizations but said it was expected with fall weather. Thanksgiving gatherings and travel, despite admonitions to avoid them, will be “an accelerate,” Cuomo said, with cases from the holiday likely being seen in test numbers starting in about 10 days.

“We’re going to see an increase post Thanksgiving,” Cuomo said “That’s going to take a bad situation and make it worse.”

As of Wednesday, the statewide positive-test rate was 3.04%.

Cuomo said a plan was being developed to manage the pandemic through the winter, with priorities given to helping hospital capacity keep up and with keeping schools open for kindergarten through eighth grade, and on distributing a COVID vaccine when one becomes available.

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