Essex County sees first COVID-19 fatality

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

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County has seen its first fatality from COVID-19, the Essex County Health Department confirmed on Tuesday.

The name, age and gender of the individual have not been made public. Names generally aren’t made public, and Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers said providing the age and gender would be “too identifying for a small facility.” The department confirmed that the person was a resident of Essex Center in Elizabethtown.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones, and the healthcare workers who helped care for this individual,” Beers said in a statement.

The person was not isolated outside of the nursing home before their death, according to Beers, but had entered the center for emergency medical service. All residents were tested on Monday, and the samples from those tests have been transported to the Wadsworth Center in Albany, a state lab, for analysis. All staff at the Essex Center are tested weekly, Beers said.

In its statement, Beers did not say how this person may have been exposed to the virus, but later told the Enterprise that the department doesn’t know how the person was exposed.

“We are looking into all possibilities at this time,” she said.

It’s unclear how many people may have been sent into quarantine in connection with the case. Essex Center is working with state and local health departments to conduct contact tracing, according to Beers.

The department has not published quarantine data for some time in an effort to “maintain (the department’s) response capacity in the most critical areas,” according to Essex County Health Department Public Information Officer Andrea Whitmarsh.

“The Essex County Health Department is working closely with the facility and the New York State Department of Health to continue to ensure all proper protocols are in place to maintain a safe environment for residents and staff,” the department said.

The department reported zero active cases of COVID-19 on Aug. 7, with eight new test-confirmed cases and eight new suspected cases since then. As of yesterday, there were two active cases in Essex County, according to the department.

“The health department reminds all Essex County residents to continue to do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face covering, stay at least six feet apart from other people and wash your hands frequently,” the department said.

Essex County was among the last of New York’s 62 counties without a COVID-19 fatality. As of Monday, the county has seen 85 test-confirmed and 69 suspected cases of COVID-19 since March.


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