CDC lists Monroe County in ‘substantial’ COVID-19 transmission zone

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Monroe County among several New York counties with “substantial” COVID-19 transmission.

The CDC’s reporting comes days after it recommended areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Areas with “substantial” transmission, according to the CDC, record 50 to 99 cases per week, per 100,000. CDC data Sunday showed Monroe County at 50.02 per 100,000 from Sunday, July 25 to Saturday, July 31.

Implementing the guidance is on local and regional governments. News 8 has reached out to both Monroe County and the County Department of Health for a comment.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza resumed their weekly COVID-19 briefings last week to provide an update on the rising virus cases in the county.

In last week’s weekly update from the county, the average positivity rate was 2%, the highest it has been locally since May 30. However, regional hospitalization rates have remained steady, even decreasing slightly over the same time frame:

Data courtesy Monroe County Department of Public Health

For much of the pandemic, the CDC advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they were within 6 feet of one another.

Then in April, as vaccination rates rose sharply, the agency eased its guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to cover their faces unless they were in a big crowd of strangers.

In May, the CDC further eased its guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

The guidance still called for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it cleared the way for reopening workplaces and other venues.

Subsequent CDC guidance said fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks at summer camps or at schools, either.

For months COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations were falling steadily, but those trends began to change at the beginning of the summer as a mutated and more transmissible version of the coronavirus, the delta variant, began to spread widely, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates.

Dr. Emil Lesho, a doctor with Rochester Regional Health, explained the importance of masking, with the delta variant now in play, in an interview with News 8 Friday.

“So, the risk if you’re vaccinated to spread it to somebody else is really low. But it’s not low enough with delta, to say ‘it’s OK,’ the risk is high enough now that delta’s on the scene, for vaccinated patients,” said Lesho.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Yankee Stadium last week for a coronavirus briefing where he announced a new campaign to help reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy through community-based organizations in zip codes state with low vaccination rates.

“We see the COVID numbers and we see the reality, and we know what we have to do,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor said 75% of adults in New York state are now fully vaccinated, but the 25% of those unvaccinated account for approximately 3.5 million people. The governor said the issue of vaccine hesitancy isn’t new, but he said the state would invest $15 million in six statewide community organizations to run a community-based information campaign in targeted zip codes of where there are low vaccination rates.


This is a developing story. Check back with News 8 for updates.

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