Below 4% positivity rate in Monroe County’s yellow zone micro-cluster for second straight day


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County’s COVID-19 yellow zone positivity rate was 3.87% Tuesday, according to an update from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office Wednesday.

That positivity rate was up slight from Monday’s 3.68%, but below the updated rolling seven-day average for the cluster, which is 4.74%.

According to the New York state guidelines, microclusters are reevaluated 14 days after an initial determination. Monroe County’s yellow cluster was declared last Monday and brought about new rules and restrictions for schools, dining, religious worship, gatherings, and more.

MORE | Gov. Cuomo: ‘You will see a tremendous spike in COVID-19 after Thanksgiving’

While a zone update isn’t expected until at least Monday, based on the guidelines, the positivity rate has consistently surpassed the 4% criteria. According to the New York State Department of Health, the Monroe County micro-cluster positivity rates for the past week were as follows:

  • November 9 — 4.76%
  • November 10 — 6.21%
  • November 11 — 5.69%
  • November 12 — 5.90%
  • November 13 — 5.09%
  • November 14 — 4.68%
  • November 15 — 4.77%
  • November 16 — 3.68%
  • November 17 — 3.87%

To qualify for orange zone designation, Monroe County would have to meet the following benchmarks:

  • Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 4% for 10 days AND
  • Geographic area has 12 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average

According to the governor’s office, orange zone restrictions would include:

  • Closing high-risk non-essential businesses (gyms, personal care, etc).
  • Schools move to remote-only instruction model
  • Outdoor dining only, four people maximum per table
  • 33% capacity for religious worship capacity, 25 people maximum

Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

Capital Region2.3%2.8%3.3%
Central New York3.9%4.5%3.7%
Rochester & Finger Lakes4.3%3.7%3.9%
Long Island3.5%3.5%3.6%
Mohawk Valley1.7%3.1%2.6%
New York City2.3%2.9%2.9%
North Country1.8%2.2%1.9%
Southern Tier1.4%0.7%1.4%
Western New York5.2%6.5%5.6%

“The good news is micro-clusters work,” Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday. “Following the rules works. Broome and Orange Counties were yellow zones and they’re now back to normal. Brooklyn was an orange zone and is being dropped to a yellow zone. So the restrictions work. And just to make it very simple, if you socially distanced, and you wore a mask, and you were smart, none of this would be a problem. It’s all self-imposed.”

Local and state health officials say the mandated increase in testing for schools, spurred by the yellow zone designation, could play a role in reducing the area’s positivity rate.

“We are hoping to have kids and staff participate because that is the way we can get off the yellow list, by increasing our negative numbers,” said Kathleen Graupman, Superintendent of Schools for Monroe County, in a Zoom briefing last week.

MORE | Why opting out of student COVID-19 testing in Monroe County schools is discouraged

“If the math and mention of fractions gives you anxiety, think of it this way,” said Webster Central School Superintendent Carmen Gumina in a letter to district students, staff and parents last week. “Currently, the majority of people being tested have symptoms or have been contact traced. When we test people without symptoms (like students and staff), the positivity rate will go back down and help us return to a green zone.”

COVID-19 testing in schools got off to a good start in Webster Monday. Of the 768 tests for students and staff, all results came back negative.

“Our positivity rate most likely is going to be driven down relatively fast if you think about it, because you have 19 districts, all just as safe as Webster is, and you’re going to get all these negative tests,” Gumina told News 8 Monday.

MORE | 768 Webster students and staff test negative for COVID-19 on first day of testing, zero positives

Even without the increased testing in schools, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said that seven-day rolling average positivity rate has to started to improved.

Metrics to Exit a Focus Zoneaccording to NYS DOH:

“After 14 days from being placed in a focus zone, the State DOH, in coordination with the local health department, and in consultation with global health experts, will determine whether data sufficiently demonstrate that the area has successfully reduced viral spread to a level able to be contained given testing, contact tracing and other health system metrics. Based on the below metrics and expert advisement, the State DOH will decide whether the Focus Zone will be extended, modified (redrawn geographic boundaries based on case prevalence and positivity data), or ended. For Orange and Yellow Zones that are put in place solely as “buffer zones” to monitor case spread beyond a designated focus zone, these will be evaluated based on positivity data, cases per capita, and daily hospital admissions over the entire 14 day period to ensure there are no signs of broader spread from the focus area that prompted the zone creation. If after 14 days there has been no notable increase in positivity, new cases, or new hospital admissions from the buffer zone, the buffer zone will – based on other epidemiological factors – become eligible to qualify for a new zone designation, or ending a zone designation, if appropriate.”

Wednesday’s statewide data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 2,202 (+78)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 352
  • Hospital Counties – 50
  • Number ICU – 423 (+15)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 192 (+16)
  • Total Discharges – 82,261 (+239)
  • Deaths – 35
  • Total Deaths – 26,225

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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