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Franklin, Essex county COVID cases hit 86

The number of new cases of COVID-19 continued to rise in Franklin and Essex counties on Thursday.

Franklin County reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases countywide to 62. Essex County reported one new case of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases countywide to 24.

Franklin County is currently seeing its highest number of known active cases ever.

The daily test positivity rate in Franklin County was 2.81% on Thursday, according to county Manager Donna Kissane. About 235 tests returned negative. The seven-day average positivity rate is 2.65%.

Four people who tested positive for COVID-19 have recently been deemed recovered by the Franklin County Public Health department. Two county residents have died after contracting COVID-19, both this month.

As of Wednesday, a majority of the positive cases were located in the northern end of the county. The town of Tupper Lake had six active cases, Brighton had three, and Harrietstown had one. An updated map showing where positive cases are was not posted on Thursday.

In Essex County, the town of North Elba currently has the highest number of active cases, with seven as of Thursday. There were four reported cases in the town of Jay, three in Moriah, two in Schroon, two in Wilmington, one in Keene and one in Chesterfield, according to the county Health Department. Of the 195 Essex County residents since March who were either suspected of having COVID-19 by their doctor or confirmed to have COVID-19, 171 have recovered.

To date, 15 Essex County residents have died after contracting COVID-19, all of them nursing home residents tied to a coronavirus outbreak at the Essex Center nursing home and rehabilitation facility. Altogether, 16 Essex Center residents and patients died after contracting COVID-19. One patient went to Clinton County and isn’t included in Essex County’s data.

The test positivity rate across the North County region was 1.3% on Wednesday, down from 1.9% on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Health.

Statewide, the positivity rate declined on Wednesday to 2.7% from 3.4% on Tuesday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Across the state, 2,276 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday. The state saw 31 new COVID-19 fatalities.

Cuomo has urged New Yorkers to avoid gathering on Thanksgiving next week and has warned of a possible spike in new COVID-19 cases in the weeks afterward.

“These next few weeks will be challenging with the holiday,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Love is sometimes doing what’s hard — this year, if you love someone, it is smarter and better to stay away, as hard as that is to say and hear. We can get through this if we all continue to wear our masks, stay socially distant, avoid gatherings, wash our hands and above all, stay New York Tough.”

COVID-19 hotline changes

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Franklin County announced changes to its COVID-19 hotline on Thursday.

The hotline was operational from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but will now be available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and it will be closed on Sundays and holidays, according to a public notice from the county.

“We feel that with the volume of the calls they have been receiving, they can be handled during the hours that have been identified moving forward,” county Manager Donna Kissane said. “If someone has an emergency, they should call 9-1-1.”

The hotline can be reached at 518-481-1111.

The county has asked that anyone who believes they were exposed to a COVID-19-positive person self-isolate and wait for a call from a contact tracer. Those who don’t receive a call from the county health department within 72 hours should call the county COVID-19 hotline to self-report, according to the county’s public notice.

“Not all exposures meet criteria for mandatory quarantine,” the notice reads. “It must be considered a close contact during the ‘infectious period’ of the person who tested positive. The person who tested positive will be interviewed and a contact tracer will reach out to all contacts who meet the criteria for mandatory quarantine. Our contact tracers are working diligently to call all positives and their contacts as soon as possible.”

Altogether, 502 people in 310 locations across Franklin County were either in quarantine or isolation on Thursday.

Inlet mobile testing upcoming

Adirondack Health on Thursday announced an upcoming mobile COVID-19 testing clinic in Inlet, Hamilton County. The clinic will roll into town on Nov. 24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Fern Park Recreation Area on Loomis Road.

“Mobile testing in the town of Inlet will complete Hamilton County’s amplified COVID-19 testing push ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday,” Bill Farber, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement Thursday. “It is absolutely critical that we identify any pockets of the virus to help keep our contact tracing strategy on track. We appreciate the collaboration between local government, the Hamilton County Public Health Department, and our friends at Adirondack Health.”

Those who want to be tested are encouraged to register in advance. Those who preregister will be prioritized and wait for less time when they arrive. Call the Adirondack Health COVID-19 Clinic at 518-897-2462 to register. A doctor’s order is suggested but not required — and testing is open to everyone.

People can get tested at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake or at any of Adirondack Health’s mobile clinics, free of charge, regardless of whether the person has health insurance or not.

The COVID-19 Clinic at AMC in Saranac Lake remains open from noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

‘Mask up’

The Plattsburgh-based North Country Chamber of Commerce announced a collaboration with the Clinton County Health Department, the Plattsburgh YMCA and the United Way of the Adirondack Region on Thursday designed to raise awareness about the importance of following state public health guidance.

The new “#maskupnorthcountry” social media campaign started on Wednesday, according to a news release from the chamber. It features quotes and pictures from local elected officials and other community leaders about the importance of wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. There are also new signs with public health messaging available for business owners to download at northcountrychamber.com.

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