Our COVID numbers soar


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County’s COVID-19 numbers are surging.
Because that’s how math works.
As of yesterday, there were about 155 cases of COVID locally; “about” because the state’s tracking typically lags the county’s by a few days and the Health Department’s been too busy following up on the cases to count.
[This is an update from the print edition; as of noon Tuesday, the numbers were 145 positive COVID case.]
“It’s alarming,” Bill Federice, chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors said Saturday.
According to the state’s COVID tracker, of the 56 people here tested Monday, two or 3.6 percent tested positive.
That’s about even with a week ago, but Friday, 4.2 percent of the 96 people tested were positive.
As of yesterday, 18,818 Schoharie County residents had been tested.
While the number of COVID cases—even across New York State—is low when compared with the rest of the country, Mr. Federice said it’s the trend, both here and in the Mohawk Valley, that’s alarming.
“We’re all keeping an eye on Oneida County,” he said; Monday [3,603 positive COVID cases as of Tuesday]] “because it’s getting closer to us. We’re seeing an increase in Albany County too…”
Mr. Federice said the increase in Oneida County has been linked to a “flagrant disregard of safety measures” in youth—not school—sports like soccer and hockey.
“I will say, all of our schools are doing a helluva job,” he said, even as Middleburgh Central School has moved most of its classes to online through December 1 and Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School is keeping a close eye on the possibility there.
What happens if the numbers here overwhelm Health Department staff, already struggling with a hiring freeze because of COVID?
Mr. Federice said the state stands ready to step in and help with the 10 local contact tracers; that number, he said, was set by the state.
One indication of the surge, is said, is the fact that the Mohawk Valley Regional Control Room, which had been meeting daily at the start of the pandemic, was down to five days a week. And then two.
“Now, we’re back up to three days a week,” he said, a number likely to increase along with the numbers.”
The Health Department is warning that while Schoharie County isn’t yet in one of Governor Cuomo’s “color” micro-cluster zones, yet, that could change quickly.
The micro-zones are Governor Cuomo’s attempt to restrict hotspots without shutting down an entire region.
Red, “cluster,” is the most severe.
Orange is “warning” and yellow, “precautionary.”
No zones are currently red, but several are orange, including Brooklyn, Chemung, and Westchester Counties; Rockland, Orange, Broome, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, and Tioga Counties and Staten Island are yellow.
The zones are based on a rolling average of the number of positive cases.
According to the Health Department, Sunday’s positivity rate was 3.8 percent—which, on its own, would have put it in the yellow zone.
The county’s seven-day rolling average, however, is .9 percent, most likely due to the large number of tests being run at SUNY Cobleskill.
Students leave for Thanksgiving Saturday and classes will remove to remote after that for the rest of the semester before resuming in February.
With the students gone, the county’s percentage rate is expected to jump and with it, the possibility of moving into a micro-zone.