Slow growth in local cases seen as cause for optimism even as number grows in NY


UTICA — The number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oneida County stands at 12, with two residents hospitalized, which county officials see as a reason for optimism even as New York state has more than 10 times the cases of the next most affected states.

Two new cases were identified as of Tuesday afternoon. One of the residents was outside the county when tested and is in a hospital outside the county, County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said at the daily media briefing on the coronavirus outbreak.

"One hospitalized patient within this county with COVID-19 is a good sign for us," Picente said.

The Oneida County briefing came a few hours after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that there were 25,665 confirmed cases in the state, compared to about 2,800 in California, the second-highest state total.

Cuomo announced distribution of personal protective equipment to hospitals in New York city and its suburbs, where the overwhelming majority of the cases are, including masks, gowns, face shields and gloves. The supplies are being distributed in consultation with the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State, both of which are helping identify hospitals in greatest need.

Cuomo again implored the federal government to implement the Defense Production Act to get manufacturers to help make critical equipment such as the protective devices and ventilators.

"New York is the first — if we learn how to blunt the impact here and bend the curve here, we can help other states who are next. Let's learn how to act as one nation."

In Oneida County, Picente said he agreed the federal government should do so. “I think it should have been down not even weeks ago but maybe a couple months ago when this crisis was looming.”

It's unclear how the expected peak of cases, which Cuomo said experts expect in two to four weeks, might affect Oneida County, Picente said. However, the state has collected information on availability of space, equipment, supplies and personnel from hospitals and will likely plan with localities soon, he added.

Picente again urged residents to not call 911 or ambulance services if they believe they have COVID-19 symptoms — persistent cough, high fever, shortness of breath — or because they want a test for the virus. Instead, contact a health care provider and monitor yourself.

The county expects as soon as today to launch a special phone line on dealing with mental health issues relating to the outbreak and its effects, including self-isolation and shut down of most businesses and recreation activities, Picente said.

The county is also sending a survey to businesses in conjunction with the Rome and Utica chambers of commerce and Mohawk Valley EDGE, the organization that carries out business and economic development on the county's behalf. It's all in preparation for restoring economic activity once the worst of the pandemic crisis passes locally.

“We want to know how this is impacting businesses in Oneida County, and what specific areas they are impacted in," Picente said. "This information we will be able to share with our state and federal officals, but also use the data to connect those businesses that currently are most in need and that could really connect in certain ways and assisting them with any future aid that is there, but also to see if here is a purpose and a need in which they can be utlized as we deal with this."

The county's help line relating to needs for day care, emergency assistance and aging and chronic care is 315-798-5439.

The number for the Health Department's COVID-19 information is 315-798-5431.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online symptoms checker at


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