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Health officials link new COVID-19 cases to travel, public gatherings

Coronavirus (Image provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Essex and Franklin counties continue to see new cases of COVID-19, a trend that public health officials link to travel and public gatherings.

In Franklin County, eight new cases have been announced since the beginning of last week. All of those cases were linked to the same river outing on July 10, according to Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe said in a statement on social media that the outing included a pontoon boat ride and camp parties, and that an asymptomatic non-resident of Akwesasne transmitted the virus to a young community member.

In Essex County, five new cases have been announced since the beginning of last week. As of Monday, two were reported active.

“As we have moved through the reopening phases, we have seen more cases linked to travel, as opposed to the cases linked to essential employment (which we saw more of early on),” Essex County Health Department Public Information Officer Andrea Whitmarsh said. “These cases linked to travel generally involve permanent, long-term residents that have traveled out of the county/state or who have been in contact with family or friends that have traveled.

“We’ve also had cases in asymptomatic folks who were tested for various reasons (employer requirement, elective surgery, etc.) and subsequently learned they were positive,” she said. “In some of these instances, it wasn’t possible to definitively link the case to an obvious exposure.”

With some cases stemming from unclear origins or from asymptomatic people, public health officials continue to stress caution.

“We have to continue to approach this from the standpoint that the virus is here, it’s circulating in the community, and remaining vigilant about mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing are our best bets to protecting ourselves and our loved ones,” Whitmarsh said. “The fact that we haven’t seen large clusters resulting from our positive cases speaks to how well isolation and quarantining work — and to the diligence of our community members in taking this seriously and following guidelines.”

Wearing masks in public is required in New York, in situations where social distancing isn’t possible, for everyone over the age of 2 who is able to medically tolerate it. Those who visit New York from one of 31 states on New York’s travel advisory list are required to quarantine for two weeks upon arriving here.

COVID-19 testing is available locally through Adirondack Health and Mountain Medical Urgent Care. For more information about upcoming testing sites, visit www.adirondackhealth.org/coronavirus, or mountainmedical.net.

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