ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza were joined by Ontario County Public Health Director Mary Beer and CEO of Common Ground Health and co-leader of the Finger Lakes Vaccination Task Force Wade Norwood.
According to the Wednesday update from the county health department, Monroe County is currently average 209 new cases per day over the past week, with a seven-day average positivity rate of 2.9%
“After a surge in cases in late March and early April, we’ve seen a plateau in new cases and seven-day average positivity rates over the last two weeks,” Bello said.
As rates improve, Bello warned that the county is still seeing higher portions of cases coming from younger residents.
“Our highest case totals continue to come from the same age demographics,” Bello said. “10 to 19-year-olds, and those in their 20s, and 30s.”
The county executive said hospitalization rates are also plateauing over the past two weeks.
As of Wednesday, 215 Finger Lakes residents were hospitalized with the virus, and 47 were in the ICU.
According to the Monroe County COVID-19 dashboard’s Wednesday update, 301,567 county residents are fully vaccinated, and 379,056 have received at least one dose — 51.1% of the county population.
“Vaccination efforts continue to move steadily along with more than 300,000 Monroe County residents completing their vaccine series,” Bello said. “That’s a substantial increase in the number of completed series in vaccines for Monroe County, and I think that’s great news, and I want to thank everyone who is coming in.”
The county executive said the situation has changed, with vaccine supply catching up to demand.
“There were times when Monroe County put appointments on the website and within five minutes of them being available, they were all taken,” Bello said. “As the vaccine supply increases, we’re able to look at new ways to bring the vaccine closer to where people live, making it more convenient and easier to access for residents.”
“Today, we’re announcing a series of other pop up location in partnership that will happen in the month of May to bring the vaccine closer to every part of Monroe County,” Bello said.
The pop-up vaccinations sites throughout the county are as follows:
- Brockport High School and East Rochester High School, May 12
- Greece Community & Senior Center and Fairport High School, May 13
- Greece Olympia High School, May 19
- University Prep Charter School, May 22
- Brighton High School and Monroe 2 Orleans BOCES, May 26
VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System will have a tent at the Rochester Lilac Festival and offering veterans, their spouses and caregivers, 18 years and older the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Staff from the Monroe County Department of Health will also be on hand to vaccinate other Rochester Lilac Festival attendees with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re shifting away from the large sites to smaller venues which will be inherently slower if you will,” Mendoza said. “But that’s fine. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to meet people where they are.”
The Department of Public Health sent out a notice Wednesday night, saying organizations planning outdoor events and festivals can ask for help navigating the state’s latest COVID-19 guidance.
The changing guidance has caused issues for events like the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which was canceled, and the Town of Greece Memorial Day Parade, which was canceled then not canceled.
“The reality is there hasn’t been any unified guidance that really addresses festivals and I would love to work with the festival organizers more than we are,” Dr. Mendoza said. “I do think that people in our community want to have that normalcy back. I do think that better guidance would be helpful but given that I do this we can work within the guidance to make a lot of these festival very possible in the county.”
“This year’s Lilac Festival starts tomorrow and will be continuing over the next three weekends at Highland Park this year,” Bello said. “We will have COVID vaccine available at the clinic that will operate every Saturday and Sunday at the festival.”
Ice hockey returns
Dr. Mendoza announced due to declining cases, ice hockey can resume at a competitive level, provided that rinks adhere to guidelines.
“Over the course of March and April, we’ve had at least one positive case, on two out of every three days — something we did not see with any other sport, resulting in at least 125 total known cases related directly to ice hockey,” Dr. Mendoza said.
“Since February 1, ice hockey was mentioned nearly 400 times during out contact tracing.”
The health commissioner said ice hockey rinks can reopen provided that they increase social distancing in shared spaces, enforce stricter masking — specifically off the ice on the best and locker room — and the installation of signing reminding others of the COVID-19 guidelines.
“Our department will be sending details to the rink later this afternoon and setting up appoints,” Dr. Mendoza said.
Capacity restrictions lifting
On Monday, the governor held a briefing on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts, including a target date of May 19 for a “major” reopening development.
- Business capacity limits to be replaced with space available to maintain six feet of social distancing on May 19 in New York and New Jersey
- Outdoor social gathering limit increases to 500 on May 10 in New York; indoor social gathering limit increases to 250 on May 19 in New York
- Outdoor residential gathering limit is removed and indoor residential gathering limit increases to 50 on May 19 in New York
- Large-scale indoor venue Capacity increases to 30% and large-scale outdoor venue capacity increases to 33% on May 19, proof of vaccination or recent negative test still required in New York
Watch the full press briefing
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.