Seven inmates at the Oneida County jail have tested positive for COVID-19, and are among the largest one-day increase in known cases in the county since mid-summer.
The county announced Tuesday 36 new positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the total of known active cases to 189. The new positive tests was the largest in Oneida County since 38 were reported July 17. The greatest one-day number of positive tests was May 4, with 63.
The county also one new COVID-related death, the 129th in the county since the pandemic arrived in March. Thirteen patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized as of Tuesday afternoon, including three nursing home residents, and all in the Mohawk Valley Health System.
The jail has been free of COVID-19 cases, with only one confirmed case until recently.
Otherwise, no particular site or event has been linked to the recent uptick, County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said Tuesday.
“When we had some bumps they were because of certain clusters if you will,” Picente said. “What we’re seeing the last several days has been really a mix: some nursing homes, some correctional facilities, some high school parties, college party, workplace issues. It’s a little bit of a mix, and that’s what makes it more concerning, because it’s harder to put a lid on these things if they’re spreading that way.”
Daily new cases had been modest since mid-summer in Oneida County, with daily positive tests often in the single-digits. The county and the greater six-county Mohawk Valley region of which it is a part had been having some of the lowest pandemic indicators in the state recently, seemingly immune from clusters like those at colleges, taverns and churches in the Southern Tier, Cortland County and neighboring Lewis County.
As of Tuesday, the region still had the state’s lowest positive-test rate, 0.8%, and its seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents of 5.30 was second lowest behind the 4.77 of the North Country, which includes Lewis County. In contrast, Syracuse-based Central New York had a new case average of 10.9, the mid-Hudson region 11.9, and the Southern Tier 29.1, highest in the state.
Statewide numbers were 1.4% of tests coming back positive and 8.89 new cases a day per 100,000.
Picente suggested cold weather, which brings people inside, is a factor, along with a let-down of precautions.
“My concern is, like others, that with the summer coming to an end and more people indoors again and gathering and again being careless — I’ll say that, and being not as vigilant as they need to be, I’m concerned about the numbers,” Picente said. “We need to be very cautious entering cold weather here.”
The increase in active cases is consistent with a rise in case numbers and the rate of tests indicating COVID-19 across upstate and New York state since mid-October. The statewide positive-test rate reported Tuesday was 1.78 percent, and 15 people with COVID-19 died, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
Hospitalizations for COVID increased by 24 patients to 1,083. In the Mohawk Valley, the seven-day gross hospitalization rate, an indicator of severity, was up to 0.53 from less than .30 much of the past few weeks.
Cuomo also announced that California has been added to New York’s list of states from which visitors are to quarantine when arriving. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
Also crossing the threshold was Massachusetts, but it was not added to the
quarantine list because of the interconnected nature of the region and the mode of transport among the states, just as New Jersey and Connecticut have not been added. However, non-essential travel among the states is discouraged, Cuomo said.
"We know COVID is spreading at increased rates in other states and New York State is not in a hermetically sealed bubble. The numbers are a reminder that COVID is still here and continues to spread in communities across the state, particularly when people choose not to follow the safety protocols in place to control the virus. We continue to see outbreaks linked to mass gatherings at houses of worship, at weddings and funerals, and other events where the virus can quickly spread," Cuomo said.
Health officials announced the following incidents of possible public exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and recommends anyone there at the time monitor themselves for symptoms:
Peking Tokyo, 3 Henderson St., New York Mills, during food pick-up 530-5:45 p.m. Oct. 19; self-monitor through Nov. 2.
AMF Pin-O-Rama Lanes, 1724 Genesee St., Utica, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Oct. 22; self-monitor through Nov. 5.
Dollar General at 801 Black River Blvd. N. in Rome, 2-2:15 p.m. Oct. 23; self-monitor through Nov. 6.
Walgreens at 49 Kellogg Road, New Hartford, 5-5:15 p.m. Oct. 23; self-monitor through Nov. 6.
Hannaford, 50 Kellogg Road, New Hartford, 5:15-5:30 p.m. Oct. 23; self-monitor through Nov. 6.