ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Friday marks exactly 500 days since Monroe County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, but the pandemic’s presence persists.
People who test positive for COVID-19, even if they are fully vaccinated, are still required to isolate for 10 days, officials from the Monroe County Department of Public Health said Thursday.
According to a department of health spokesperson: “The vaccines are highly effective, but it is still possible for a very small percentage of fully vaccinated people to become infected. Except in very rare instances, however, these infections are mild and do not lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or death.”
Health officials continue to urge Monroe County residents to get vaccinated if they have not done so already. As of Monday’s update, 429,707 county residents were fully vaccinated and 452,998 had received at least one dose — 61% of the county population.
With fewer daily COVID-19 cases reported lately than during the height of the pandemic late last year and early this year, contact tracing efforts have taken fewer resources in recent weeks, county officials say. Still, they say nothing has changed in terms of how teams conduct contact tracing when a positive case is confirmed.
People who test positive for COVID-19 are still required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or, in the absence of symptoms, 10 days from the date of their test. Additionally, their close contacts are still required to quarantine for 10 days from the last date of contact with the infected person.
While regional coronavirus hospitalization and ICU numbers have remained relatively flat over the past few weeks, the county is seeing a slight but steady increase in its seven-day average positivity rate:
|Date||Positivity rate (Monroe County)||Hospitalizations (Finger Lakes)||ICU (Finger Lakes)|
Coronavirus rates have increased across the nation in recent weeks as the delta variant has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Rochester Regional Health infectious disease expert Dr. Ed Walsh said a small portion of local COVID-19 cases were identified as delta variants.
“I have not seen the data personally, but I have been told that based on the data that’s come out of Wadsworth Laboratory that delta virus is in Rochester, that it represents a small but appreciable percentage of cases that are occurring locally,” Dr. Walsh said.
Additionally, University of Rochester Medical Center officials reported that 19% of 54 cases between June 2 and June 16 were positive for the delta variant. As with other variant strains in the past, sample analysis can take up to six weeks for results to be identified.
The delta variant was first identified in India in December of 2020. It was detected in the U.S. in March. According to the World Health Organization, Delta is estimated to be about 55% more transmissible than the alpha variant, which originated in the United Kingdom.
Despite increasing rates, Dr. Walsh said that vaccination is helping from hospitals reaching critical capacity levels.
“Fortunately we’re not seeing too much coming into the hospitals right now and I think in large part that’s because we’ve done pretty well vaccinating our most vulnerable, elderly, and high risk individuals,” Dr. Walsh said. However, it shouldn’t give us too much comfort because clearly the virus is here. There’s no reason it won’ do what it’s doing elsewhere, it is more transmissible so therefore it will spread. It will tend to dominate the previous virus that had come out of the U.K. that dominated Rochester for several months and it may well become the most dominate one here because it is much more transmissible.”
Dr. Walsh says the emergence of the delta variant is another reason to push for more vaccination.
“It will evolve slower as more and more people get immune because there will be less opportunity to grow and spread so therefore the number of variants may well diminish over time,” Dr. Walsh said.
Monroe County still operates COVID-19 testing sites, which can be found online.