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Monroe County COVID-19 hospitalizations reach new high on eve of reopening 

click to enlarge On the eve of reopening some parts of the economy, Monroe County has hit a new high in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19.

GRAPHIC BY BRETT DAHLBERG

On the eve of reopening some parts of the economy, Monroe County has hit a new high in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19.

On the eve of Monroe County and the Finger Lakes region reopening from the state-imposed closures of the coronavirus pandemic, the county hit a record number of people hospitalized for the illness.

The county Public Health Department released data Thursday showing that 109 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment. That surpasses the county’s previous high of 108, set on April 26, and caps five straight days of increases in the number of people hospitalized with the disease.

New York state uses those hospitalization figures to determine whether a region is ready for reopening. Monroe County is in the Finger Lakes region, along with Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week that the region was ready to begin reopening on Friday.

To start that process, a region needs to have either a "sustained decline" in hospitalizations over the last two weeks (the Finger Lakes region does not, according to the state) or, alternatively, no three-day spans in which the region averages more than 15 new hospitalizations during that two-week period.

The state’s statistics show the Finger Lakes averaging 11 new hospitalizations over three days during the last two weeks.

But as of Thursday evening, those numbers had not been updated since Wednesday afternoon and did not account for Thursday’s increases in Monroe County or the 21 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in an Ontario County nursing home.

Neither the county nor state health departments  immediately responded to emailed questions about whether the Finger Lakes region was still on track to start the reopening process on Friday.
In a tweet posted just before 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, Cuomo said the Finger Lakes and four other regions in New York were, indeed, "ready to begin Phase 1 of reopening."

"New Yorkers be proud," Cuomo said. "Your actions bent the curve."

The Monroe County Public Health Department announced that it received 76 positive tests for the novel coronavirus on Thursday for people ranging in age from under 10 years old to 90 or older.

Testing has increased markedly in the county over the last few days, and so, too, has the number of coronavirus cases. The county recorded one new death from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to 163.

Brett Dahlberg is a health reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at bdahlberg@wxxi.org.
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