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URMC temporarily closes outpatient surgical center amidst COVID-19 surge 

The University of Rochester Medical Center will temporarily close its Sawgrass outpatient surgery center beginning Wednesday, Jan. 6, the hospital system has announced.

UR Medicine said the move will free up staff members at Sawgrass who can be redeployed for inpatient care across the system's hospitals to maintain needed capacity as the current surge in COVID-19 cases continues. More details are expected to be released on Monday.

On New Year's Day, Monroe County reported a record high 802 new COVID-19 cases, though it reported 454 cases the next day and 639 on Sunday. County officials also announced Sunday that Monroe County's testing positivity rate topped 10 percent.

State data on the coronavirus released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday showed that the Finger Lakes region had a seven-day average positivity rate of 10.35 percent, the second highest COVID-19 testing positivity rate in the state. The Mohawk Valley has a slightly higher rate.

The percentage of hospital beds available in the Finger Lakes region is at 31 percent. The percentage of ICU beds available in the area is at 27 percent.

On Sunday, Cuomo also released a statement which said that one of the most pressing challenges, along with maintaining diligence in stopping the spread of the virus, will be to ensure that the vaccine is made available fairly.

"COVID has exposed many of the existing injustices in our society, most notably that racism is, without a doubt, a public health crisis,” Cuomo stated.

Cuomo said that data has continued to show that despite higher infection and death rates in the Black and Latino communities, testing has remained more widely available in white communities.

“To break down barriers and ensure vaccine access for all, I will not take the vaccine until it is available for my age group in Black, Hispanic, and poor communities around the state," Cuomo pledged in his statement.

Cuomo made similar comments in a videotaped message to the Abyssinian Baptist Church, a historic Black church in New York City. The comments were played on Sunday morning.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI News director.

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