COVID infection rates climb locally, mask mandate discussed

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – COVID rates in one county in the north are among the highest in New York and another has been climbing for weeks. With Erie County forcing masks again, this idea popped up in conversations across the state.

Jefferson County’s COVID-19 infection rate has increased week after week.

“If you go back a few weeks, we’re in the 7% range. A week ago we were 8. And this week we’re going 9 for 10, ”said Scott Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Council of Legislators.

These percentages are an average of 7 days.

Gray indicates that people are going indoors for the winter as a reason. He adds that getting people vaccinated is part of the county’s solution. The county is also looking for state-sponsored testing sites.

“We have to face it and to get there you have to increase your tests to a high number,” Gray said.

In Lewis County, COVID rates rival state highs at around 12%. County manager Ryan Piche says to bring this down is gunshots.

“We have a vaccination rate of around 60% and our positivity rate is 12%. So they are a direct function of each other. Vaccination is the key to getting us out of this pandemic, ”he said.

On Monday, Erie County brought back the indoor mask warrants. Gray says Jefferson County isn’t there yet, but the idea has sprouted statewide.

“There are a number of conversations going on right now in terms of efforts to mitigate this, which would limit capacity indoors, in indoor environments. Masking, ”Gray said.

Piche says in Lewis County that call likely must have come from the state.

“I don’t think you’ll see Lewis County acting unilaterally on this,” he said.

St. Lawrence County public health officials report that COVID rates have remained stable in the 6% range. The vaccination rate is on the rise.

“We had a 1% increase from last Monday to this Monday,” said Jolene Munger, acting director of public health for St. Lawrence County.

Still, St.Lawrence health officials want more young adults to get vaccinated and recommend masks indoors.

Copyright 2021 WWNY. All rights reserved.

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