State sending some tracing aid, help for flu but not yet opening casinos

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Oneida County reported nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the third day in a week the number was fewer than 10.

There were no new COVID-related deaths, and none of the new test-confirmed cases involved a nursing home resident.

As of noon Thursday, 10 county residents known to have COVID-19 were hospitalized in the county, including one at Rome Memorial Hospital and nine in the Mohawk Valley Health System, where four patients are nursing home residents. Two county residents were hospitalized outside the county.

As of Thursday afternoon, the county was tracking 226 known active cases, and had recorded 1,692 resolved cases; 115 county residents are known to have died with COVID-19.

Regionally, the Mohawk Valley’s rate of tests that were positive over the previous seven days was 1.2 percent, compared to a statewide average of 1 percent. The region’s rate of new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days was 3.80, higher than the statewide rate of 3.42 and lower than only that of Long Island, at 4.01 and the Capital Region, 3.94. It was 2.67 in the Central New York, which includes Madison County, and 1.16 in the North Country, which includes Lewis County and is the state’s lowest rate.

In Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state will distribute $30 million to counties to increase tracing the contacts of people with COVID-19.

The funding has been made available through a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases.

In return for the funds, counties will have to use a particular tracing system to ensure statewide consistency. Amounts of funding are based on each county’s population and its share of COVID-19 cases so far.

In addition, the state is distributing $2 million provided by the CDC to promote flu vaccinations for the upcoming influenza season. Influenza, or flu, has symptoms similar to COVID-19, and by increasing vaccination rates, it is hoped that the confluence of flu and COVID-19 will not overwhelm local health systems. Tests for both diseases generally rely on the same labs, Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo announced he will postpone a special state environmental and conservation bond issue authorized in the fiscal 2021 state budget for at least a year. The state is facing a shortfall between budgeted and actual revenues estimated at $14 million.

The governor also defended not lifting an order keeping non-Native American casinos closed. He said he understands jobs at casinos are needed, but that the decision is based on the likelihood of spread in a particular type of business and how essential it is. “You don’t need a casino to maintain survival.”

The company that runs Vernon Downs has filed a state notice of possible layoffs. Harness horse races are held there, but the racino remains closed.

Oneida County announced the following incidents of possible public exposure to people confirmed to have COVID-19, and recommends anyone at these locations at the respective times monitor themselves for signs of the disease:

Lane Bryant, Commercial Drive in New Hartford, 1-2:30 p.m. July 22; self-monitor through Aug. 5.

Hannaford on Commercial Drive in New Hartford, 8-10 a.m. July 24; self-monitor through Aug. 7.

Delta Lake State Park, 12:30-4 p.m. July 25; self-monitor through Aug. 8.

Calvary Gospel Church, Main Street in New York Mills, 10:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 26; self-monitor through Aug. 9.

Aldi on Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford, 3-4 p.m. July 27; self-monitor through Aug. 10.

Rite Aid at 1924 Genesee St. in Utica, 4-4:20 p.m. July 27; self-monitor through Aug. 10.

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