ORLEANS COUNTY, NY (WKBW) — An alarmingly high number of COVID-19 infections is found in western New York, Orleans County.
Orleans County is considered part of the Finger Lakes Region as far as state COVID-19 tracking goes. The province exceeded 15% positivity this week.
Compared to other counties in the state, three other counties have downstate positivity rates above 10%.
Orleans County public health director Paul Pettit stated that of the 231 tests conducted on Nov. 8, 35 tests came back positive.
To put this in perspective, nearly 4,700 hundred tests were taken in Erie County on the same day, with 366 tests returning positive.
Orleans County has a total population of just over 40,000 people while Erie County has nearly 920,000.
“Another thing in Orleans County is that our vaccination coverage is a little lower than in other areas in the region. If you look over the Finger Lakes, Orleans is at the bottom of some of the other rural counties,” director of public health for Orleans and Genesee County, said Paul Pettit.
Pettit said the rise in cases is worrying, but not shocking.
According to the county, here’s a breakdown of the COVID-19 positivity rates between November 5 and 8:
November 5: 30 of 326 tested positive (9.2%).
November 6: 34 out of 280 tested positive (12.1%).
November 7: 14 of 127 tested positive (11%).
November 8: 35 out of 231 tested positive (15.1%).
“Something we want to be aware of and keep an eye on. We are hopeful with this time, we are getting more people vaccinated, which is very important. That is our most important tool,” he added.
Pettit said there are several factors behind the increase in the number of cases in the province, including people returning to indoor activities.
“One of the key things we’ve seen in some case studies is that people have attended weddings. They’ve attended birthday parties and various types of events. These kinds of indoor activities lend themselves to a better environment for covid and other respiratory illnesses,” he says.
Households that have An positive eventually spreads to everyone in the house, leading to bigger cases in the county, according to Pettit.
“We’ve seen a little less vigilance,” he said.
Complacency is strongly discouraged, especially during the colder months, and Pettit said people in the county and surrounding areas should not only get a COVID-19 shot, but also a flu shot.
“You can get the flu and you can get COVID. You’re not protected if you can get the flu shot or vice versa,” he added. “We did a great job last year and I think these strategies I’ve already talked about will help prevent COVID and reduce the spread of flu in our community, where we saw a very, very low spread in our area. We’d like to see that again.”