Bello, Dr. Mendoza: Looming holidays, flu season complicate COVID-19 in Monroe County

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza hosted a coronavirus briefing Wednesday afternoon to update residents on the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases are rising quickly in Monroe County, reaching new daily cases levels, average positivity rates, and regional hospitalizations not seen since January when the community was coming down from the peak of the holiday surge.

Bello reported 406 new COVID-19 cases in Monroe County Wednesday, bringing the county’s seven-day average to 340 new cases per day, an increase from last week’s 337 and 253, respectively.

“The numbers are climbing,” Bello said. “As we migrate indoors with the colder weather approaching, we’re seeing an increase in these numbers. We need to go back to the basics and do what slows the spread of the virus.

“First, making sure we’re taking personal precautions, such as a wearing a mask when inside public places where we can’t keep a distance,” Bello said. ” Second, if you’re not feeling well, please remember to stay home. I think we learned a lot over the past year and a half — if you’re feeling sick, stay home. These are the best ways that we can do our part so slow the spread.”

According to the New York State Department of Health, the Finger Lakes region currently has 268 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 72 in an ICU.

Additionally, the county is now reporting a 6% seven-day average positivity rate.

Reiterating a sentiment from last week’s briefing, the health commissioner said the higher average positivity rate could be a result from more overall testing, and more selective results with people being more likely to report at-home testing results if they’re positive vs. negative.

According to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, the Finger Lakes region has the highest seven-day average positivity rate out of all the regions in New York state and more than double the current statewide average:

REGIONSaturday, November 6, 2021Sunday, November 7, 2021Monday, November 8, 2021
Capital Region4.32%4.49%4.59%
Central New York4.61%4.60%4.65%
Finger Lakes6.48%6.56%6.68%
Long Island2.45%2.45%2.50%
Mid-Hudson1.85%1.94%1.92%
Mohawk Valley5.11%5.19%5.51%
New York City1.11%1.13%1.16%
North Country5.58%5.65%5.66%
Southern Tier3.42%3.42%3.64%
Western New York6.29%6.41%6.40%
Statewide2.53%2.59%2.65%

The county leaders warned about rising rates as the holidays loom.

“Today I want to draw your attention to three things,” Dr. Mendoza said. “One, we are two weeks away from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. Two, we are just entering influenza season, with several dozens of cases being reported across New York and even some locally. Three, we have to be very clear, COVID-19 is still a pandemic and as much as we want it to be over, it’s not. These three factors all concern me.”

“In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with family gatherings,” Bello said. “Those gatherings are going to bring together generations of family, and friends. The best thing you can do, beyond wearing a mask, beyond washing your hands and being sanitary, and staying home when you’re sick — is vaccination. That’s the best way to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable citizens. Think about them as we enjoy the holidays, protecting them by becoming vaccinated.”

As of the Monroe County COVID-19 dashboard’s last local vaccination update Monday, 450,233 county residents are fully vaccinated and 497,869 have received at least one dose of the vaccine — 77.4% of the county population.

According to the health commissioner, new data shows that the vaccine is 90-95% effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalization.

The county executive said there has been an increase in vaccine doses administered in recent weeks, and the 5-11 age group is helping raise the local vaccination rate.

“More than 360 kids 5-11 got their vaccines at Monroe County clinics,” Bello said.

“Anyone ages 5 and up should get the vaccine,” Dr. Mendoza said.

You can schedule a vaccine appointment, or an appointment for a booster shot if you’re eligible, through the county website.

“Getting your booster vaccine is vital, and more and more people are eligible to get it,” Bello said.

Those eligible for vaccine boosters include people 65 and older, those who work in higher-risk professions, those who work in a long-term care facility, and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions.

The health commissioner said he acknowledges people are tired of dealing with the pandemic, but he said it’s not the time to let any guards down. He also urged residents to get their flu shot.

“I realize we all want to gather and return to normal, but we all need to realize that our actions individually and collectively will determine how and when that will happen,” Dr. Mendoza said. “We are not out of the woods yet. When we gather, we are creating opportunities for the flu and COVID to spread. Both of these illnesses can have serious implications for older adults and others and we know that can put even more pressure on our health care workers are who are already working to keep up.”

A section of the Monroe County Fleet Center on Paul Road is open weekdays for COVID-19 testing specifically for K-12 students, and you can register for an appointment online. Other testing sites for the general public include:

Mon & Tue 9-11:45am, 1-3:45pm
County Fleet Center, Building 10 – 145 Paul Rd., Rochester NY 14624
Preregistration is suggested
Click Here to Preregister

Thursdays 5-8pm
Irondequoit – Public Works Building – 2629 East Ridge Rd, Rochester, NY 14622
Preregistration is suggested
Click Here to Preregister

Fridays 11am-2pm
Greater Harvest Church – 
121 Driving Park Ave, Rochester, NY 14613
Preregistration is suggested
Click Here to Preregister

Saturdays 11am-2pm
Memorial AME Zion – 549 Clarissa St, Rochester, NY 14608
Preregistration is suggested
Click Here to Preregister

Sundays 1-4pm
Jefferson High School – 1 Edgerton Park, Rochester, NY 14608
Preregistration is suggested
Click Here to Preregister

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


Watch the full briefing

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