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Monroe County issues state of emergency after rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations 

click to enlarge Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE / WXXI NEWS
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE / WXXI NEWS
  • Monroe County Executive Adam Bello.
With a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations that shows no signs of slowing, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello issued a state of emergency Tuesday.

"We need to flatten the curve of hospitalizations now, before the situation reverts to what we experienced last year,” Bello said.

COVID-related hospitalizations in the county have increased from 265 on Thursday to 314. Unvaccinated patients accounted for nearly two-thirds of those hospitalizations; of those, 80 percent are in intensive care units.

Hospital officials say the dramatic increase in hospitalizations is making it difficult for staff to safely care for all patients.

“We could soon be required to delay elective procedures,” said Dr. Michael Apostolakos, Strong Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer.

He said if things don’t change, it will become difficult to reassure the public that the hospitals are indeed prepared to treat all patients who need care.

Bello said the state of emergency was a necessary step, but he explained that rather than issue county-wide mandates, he’s opting for a phased approach in an effort to reduce the burden on hospital systems.

“It's my responsibility to use this authority with restraint and purpose,” Bello said.

Phase 1 will go into effect on Wednesday and include:

  • Face mask requirements within all county-operated facilities for both employees and members of the public.
  • Reinstituting a work-from-home policy for those Monroe County employees who are able to do so.
  • Encouraging local governments and public- and private-sector employers to institute mask requirements for their employees who work in close contact with other individuals and allow those employees who can to work from home.
  • Monroe County will distribute about 750,000 free rapid test kits to county residents to ensure safe gatherings over the holiday season.
“By year's end, we should know that these common-sense actions are working,” Bello said.

He added that if progress is not made, he will enforce Phase 2, which will expand the mandates to include vaccine and testing requirements for certain indoor gatherings and events.

The county reported 511 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Racquel Stephen is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.
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