Keep up distancing, Oneida County officials urge

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The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oneida County stands at 15, with county officials continuing to ask residents to practice social distancing and refrain from unnecessary travel within or without of the county.

No deaths have been reported due to the coronavirus pandemic in the county. One person confirmed to have the coronavirus remained in a hospital as of Wednesday afternoon. Another county resident with the infection is being treated outside the county.

County officials said they cannot estimate the time or size of the outbreak's peak locally. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier in the day that mathematical models predict a peak of 140,000 cases requiring hospitalization, and 40,000 of those needing an intensive care bed, along with some 30,000 ventilators.

As of Tuesday, New York state had 30,811 positive cases, with 17,856 in new York City. Westchester County had 4,691 cases, but the rate of new cases has slowed there, which Cuomo attributed to isolation measures begun two weeks ago.

Cuomo said the state is closing the gap between the supplies of available hospital beds and what's expected, though there is still a significant shortage. It has used measures such as loosening state regulations on using hospital space, having all hospitals identify ways to add capacity, converting a convention center and state dormitory spaces, and has gotten thousands of responses from a call for retired health professionals to join a list of volunteers. Rome Memorial Hospital and the Mohawk Valley Health Systems hospitals in Utica have announced their plans for adding capacity.

There is no modeling of the case trajectory locally. "But we're going to see more cases. We're still seeing people traveling outside the community that are traveling back and come cases," county Health Director Phyllis Ellis said during the daily briefing on the coronarvirus outbreak.

When a case is confirmed, health officials ask the person for contacts, which includes members of his or her household and anyone with whom they traveled with recently. They are told to self-isolate for 14 days from the onset of symptoms. A contact-of-a-contact, however, such as someone who works with a first-degree contact, is not considered in need of isolation, Ellis explained.

Ellis again urged all residents to maintain social distancing. "Even in the grocery: Get what you need to get and come back home."

"Where that peak and flattening of the curve is going to happen we don't know. But we will see more cases."

The county has posted on its website videos that suggest ways to spend the time while schools are closed and many adults out of work or working at home. The county expects to roll out a hotline for mental-health counseling within the next two days.

The county has developed a survey with Mohawk Valley EDGE for businesses. It is at https://lfweb.ocgov.net/Forms/BusinessImpactSurvey.

Picente was asked if there are plans to cancel the Boilermaker, the July 15-kilometer road race and related events that draws tens of thousands of partipants and spectators to Utica each year, Oneida County's largest one-day annual gathering. Not yet, Picente said.
"We're not there for the Boilermaker," PIcente said. "We're trying to hold out our hope that once we move past this and some of our normalcy returns and some of these things can continue."
 

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