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Monroe County officials urge vigilance as COVID-19 cases climb 

click to enlarge Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza during a news briefing on Nov. 5, 2020.

PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza during a news briefing on Nov. 5, 2020.

As the COVID-19 infections rate steadily rises in Monroe County, local officials on Thursday called for greater vigilance as the holiday season approaches to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed and to protect the population from getting sick.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the greatest increases are coming from indoor gatherings of large groups in homes, bars, and restaurants. Zip codes in Greece, Webster, Irondequoit, and Perinton have all seen a rise in infections, he said.

With Thanksgiving in a few weeks, he said it’s important for everyone to strictly follow guidelines.

“What the health of the community looks like then, what the community spread looks like, our hospitalizations look like, our ICU numbers look like around Thanksgiving directly correlates to the actions we take today,” he said.

Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said that the rise in cases in the area can be halted if everyone wears a mask, keeps six feet distance with others, and limits indoor gatherings.

“We know, after the contact tracing that we’ve done involving nearly 20,000 individuals, that masking, physical distancing, and handwashing make a huge difference,” Mendoza said. “Without a vaccine, these are the ways that we stop this infection in its tracks.”

Mendoza said that K-12 schools have shown to be an example of how indoor gatherings can be held without outbreaks. He said there has been virtually no transmission in school buildings.

“Too many of us have simply stopped doing what we know works, and that is taking its toll. We now have community spread," he said.

On Thursday, Monroe County reported 120 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. There were no new deaths. The 7-day rolling average of new cases is 105 new cases per day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office reported a coronavirus infection rate for the Finger Lakes region of 3.7 percent.

The 7-day rolling average for the region was 2.6 percent and the 14-day average was 2.2 percent. The Finger Lakes region includes Monroe and eight other counties.

In a statement released on Thursday, Cuomo said, "Every expert told us come the fall cases would go up, and that's what's happening around the country and the globe. We got ready here in New York: we have our micro-cluster strategy and we have our additional testing. That's why we have the third lowest positivity rate in the country.

"But COVID fatigue is creeping up and there are serious caution flags in Western New York, the Finger Lakes, and in other communities across the state, so it is more important than ever that we be vigilant. Wear masks, wash your hands, adhere to social distancing rules, and enforce the public health guidelines that are there to save lives."

Noelle E.C. Evans is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.
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