Dr. Mendoza on COVID-19 timeline: ‘At least 6 weeks’

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —  On Tuesday, Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza gave an update on the local COVID-19 outbreak.

In an interview Dr. Mendoza said Monroe County officials are working hard to “flatten the curve” and avoid a surge in cases. If the number of positive cases continues to rise, it could put a strain on local resources. Dr. Mendoza continued to urge the public to stay home, to limit the spread of the virus.

“The surge and demand on the healthcare system is what we want to avoid, and while it is anybody’s guess, what I will say is the peak can be shorter and more blunt if we do the right thing today, ” said Dr. Mendoza.

MORE | 106 cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County, 3 deaths, 15 hospitalized, 472 in mandatory quarantine

In Monroe and surrounding counties schools and businesses have closed because of concerns over COVID-19. Dr. Mendoza says it could be months before they reopen to the public.

“I do think it’s safe at this point to plan on at least six weeks from when we call this thing done to start reopening things. So the last thing anybody wants is to beat this, whatever that looks like, only to find we have a surge again if we reopen and go back to life as usual,” said Dr. Mendoza.

On Friday, the governor announced a 100 percent workforce reduction for all non-essential services. He ordered New Yorkers to stay home and not go out for anything non-essential. As business in Rochester grinds to a halt, companies are now laying off employees, leaving many without jobs.

The Monroe County Health Department announced a third person died from COVID-19. There are now 95 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County, according to officials with the Department of Public Health. That number is up by 14 from last official count Monday.

Dr. Mendoza also said there have not been enough people tested in Monroe County. Right now, the process of testing for COVID-19 takes days and the complex nature of the test is making it hard to give patients the important information they need.

MORE | COVID-19 county by county: Keeping track of local cases throughout the region

“We know in the containment phase of an outbreak having the test results can guide our interventions as both a medical community and a public health approach,” said Dr. Mendoza. “The complexity of this tests has made it hard for us to communicate why its so hard to get the tests.”

As of Tuesday Monroe County Department of Health officials say they’ve tested 1,573 people.

The current test available is a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test. But according to Dr. Mendoza, this test can not tell whether someone had the virus and recovered, or if they are currently infected, which makes it harder to gauge community risk.

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