Bello, Dr. Mendoza on CDC masking guidance for vaccinated people: ‘A step in the right direction’

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza hosted their weekly coronavirus briefing Thursday to discuss the current metrics, new CDC guidance for masking, adolescent vaccination, and more.

Plateau continues

Monroe County’s COVID-19 update for Thursday:

  • 221 new cases
  • 4 new deaths
  • 185 seven-day average of new daily cases
  • 3.1% seven-day average positivity rate
  • 339,724 Monroe County residents fully vaccinated
  • 390,047 Monroe County residents with at least one dose
  • 52.5% of Monroe County residents with at least one dose
Data courtesy Monroe County Department of Public Health

“We’ve seen a plateau of new cases and our seven-day average positivity rate,” Bello said. “While our metrics remain higher than other parts of the state, we’re not seeing a substantial increase.”

The county executive said younger people are still the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Monroe County.

“From yesterday’s report, we had 18 cases in people under 10 years, old, 23 cases in 10-19, 40 cases from people in their 20s, and 29 cases of residents in our 30s,” Bello said. “Compared to our last briefing two weeks ago, however, those numbers are trending down slightly. Our local positivity rate is 3.1% as of yesterday and has been holding steady in that range.”

Bello said the regional hospitalization rates have also held steady, and the health commissioner says that those who are currently mostly folks who are not vaccinated.

“The demographics of the people in the hospitals are people who are not vaccinated,” Dr. Mendoza said. “So I think that’s a wake up call for all of us. The message here is get the vaccine.”

Vaccination

On Wednesday evening,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorized COVID-19 vaccination providers in the state to vaccinate people ages 12 to 15-years-old with the Pfizer vaccine. As of Thursday, Monroe County is offering the Pfizer vaccine to that age group with consent.

“There are a lot of reasons these children should get vaccinated as soon as possible, but I want to discuss one in particular because it’s close to my heart,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Our adolescents have not been able to play sports they love to play, they have missed out on birthdays and slumber parties. While every family experience is a littler different, they have had their lives turned upside down by this pandemic. Today, we are starting to turn it upside right again. As soon as they are fully vaccinated, they’ll be able to safely take off their masks around vaccinated friends, they’ll be able to gather for parties, and clubs, and late night pizza parties. This vaccine is an opportunity to help our children begin to feel a sense of normalcy that’s been lost since COVID-19 started.”

“All Monroe County locations are offering the Pfizer vaccine and will be accepting 12-15 residents with parental or guardian consent,” Bello said. “This is important timing as we begin the new phase of vaccine distribution, which includes the partnerships with many local school districts and community centers.”

Also included in the new distribution efforts is a partnership with the YMCA of Greater Rochester where a series of pop-up vaccine clinics across the county. Additionally, Monroe County is now offering vaccine delivery to homebound individuals.

“Homebound individuals or caregivers can call the COVID-19 hotline, which is being staffed by 211 and creating referral lists for those who need to be vaccinated, but unable to get to the clinic,” Bello said. “Simply call the hotline, 585-753-5555 and we can connect someone who can come to your home for the vaccine.”

The county executive reminded residents that a pop-up vaccine clinic will also be on site for the Lilac Festival this weekend.

“I want to remind people we do have the pop-up clinic at the Lilac Festival this Saturday and Sunday,” Bello said. “It runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. We’d like to encourage folks who are attending the Lilac Festival this weekend — please stop by and you can receive a vaccine right there at the Lilac Festival. We’re going to have some beautiful weather this weekend, so it’s just another reason to get down there and enjoy the event.”

Allergies or COVID

The health commissioner said parents should be cautious during this allergy season, and not dismiss what would normally be considered routine symptoms.

“As allergy season has started in Monroe County, parents are seeing a lot more sniffles, sneezes, and coughs,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Please though, do not dismiss the possibility that these sniffles, sneezes, and coughs could be symptoms of COVID-19. We are seeing a concerning increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases involving child care here in Monroe County with both children and staff.”

No Masks for the Vaxed?

Regarding the updated CDC guidance that relaxes outdoor mask wearing for vaccinated Americans, the county officials say they agree with the decision, and will apply them as soon as they are approved by the New York State Department of Health.

“Anywhere we have the authority to begin following the CDC guidelines, we’re going to try to do that,” Dr. Mendoza said. “I think we all share the desire as a community to get out there and to get rid of the masks whenever it’s safe and effective to do so, so I think this is another step in the right direction toward that sense of normalcy we all want.”


JOINT STATEMENT FROM MONROE COUNTY EXECUTIVE ADAM BELLO AND COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC HEALTH DR. MICHAEL MENDOZA

“We are pleased to see the new scientific guidance shows that fully vaccinated people may safely go without wearing masks or maintaining social distance in most indoor and outdoor settings. This is welcome news, and we know that many in our community are looking to shed their masks when it is safe and effective to do so. We encourage the Governor and the state Department of Health to adjust New York’s mask mandate to reflect the latest guidance from the CDC. While the mandate was essential to slowing the spread of the virus and protecting our health and safety, we now have another, even more powerful tool. Vaccination works, and the CDC recognizes that. We believe New York State should as well.”


Watch the full press briefing

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

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