UTICA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – New results on COVID-19 testing in the Mohawk Valley region have shown alarming increases in the number of positives cases. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente held his first COVID press briefing in weeks Thursday afternoon. Picente announced that there were 97 new positive COVID test results in Oneida County reported on Thursday. That is the highest number of one-day positives in the county since January of this year.
The concern for new positives is being reported in other local counties. Otsego County Public Health Director Heidi Bond issued a report Thursday saying that there were 33 new cases in Otsego County, the highest number of new positives since March of this year. There have been two new COVID deaths in Otsego County this week.
The Oneida County Executive expressed great concern regarding school-aged children heading back to the classroom in a little more than a week. Picente referenced Oneida County numbers on school-age children, under 17 years old, and said that in the month of August 165 children tested positive. “And that is during a time when they are not in school, not in the classroom.”, Picente said. He pointed out that if that were to happen during the school year, quarantine rules still exist.
Picente urged Oneida County residents to remain diligent, wear masks, and get vaccinated. Picente did not reinstate any restrictions that were in place that were in place at the height of the pandemic but said that nothing is off the table if increases continue. The County Executive expressed concern regarding the COVID Delta variant. In Otsego County, the Delta variant is cited as the probable cause of more than 96% of the new cases in that county.
The County Executive pointed out that the average age of the new positives is 37 years old and he said that that number links in with the vaccination ages. Older citizens are more likely to be vaccinated than younger members of the population. Picente added that 75% of all new COVID positives in the county came from unvaccinated individuals.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has not yet held a COVID briefing. But, in her address to the state on Tuesday, following her inauguration as governor, Hochul directed the state Department of Health to “institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools.”
Oneida County Executive Picente also urged the community to tone down the rhetoric voiced at local school board meetings on the subject masks in schools.