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62-case spike in Franklin County

Outbreaks at two prisons, plus community spread

SARANAC LAKE — Franklin County Public Health logged 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 has now swelled to 309, far beyond what this county has ever experienced at one time before.

There are two outbreaks in Franklin County, both at state prisons in Malone: one at Franklin Correctional Facility and another at Bare Hill Correctional Facility. But there is community spread happening, too, according to Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane.

The number of people countywide who have been asked to either isolate or quarantine has reached 830. That’s about 1.6% of the county’s total population.

“Franklin County Public Health is advising residents to remember that there is ongoing community spread of COVID-19,” a news release from the department reads. “Some people who have the virus will not have symptoms, but still be able to spread to others. In cases where there are symptoms, spread is possible in the 48 hours before symptoms develop, and during the time a symptomatic person may be awaiting a test result.

“Spread occurs prior to the health department being notified of lab results, identifying confirmed cases, and issuing isolation and quarantine orders. This is why the health department requests that residents take precautions at all times, not just when known cases are identified. Please continue to wear a mask when you are out in public, maintain a physical distance from others of at least 6 feet, and wash your hands frequently. Avoid gathering with those outside of your household, and if you are sick, stay home and contact your health care provider for further guidance.”

The latest update from the county on where the people who have tested positive are located was on Thursday, with data from Wednesday. As of that last update, the majority of positive cases were in Malone, which has been the case most of the time since this past March. The number of cases in the town of Harrietstown, which includes most of the village of Saranac Lake, was abnormally high at 27, plus 68 people in quarantine. These numbers have very likely changed in the past two days, however — the county has reported 99 new cases countywide since Wednesday.

The historic number of active cases in this county comes as this small, rural health department prepares to participate in the state’s coronavirus vaccine rollout. Franklin County Public Health had not yet received its allotment of vaccines as of Friday afternoon.

Of the 25,925 vaccine doses that have been delivered to the North Country region so far, about 99% of them had already been injected into people as of Friday, according to the state Department of Health.

The federal government decides how many vaccine doses are allotted to each state. New York state has been receiving between 200,000 and 300,000 doses each week, according to the DOH. Seven million New Yorkers are eligible for the vaccine, but only 108,573 of those 7 million have received both their first and second doses.

Altogether, New York has received more than 1.19 million vaccine doses, 91% of which have been administered as of Friday, according to the DOH. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Friday that the remainder of the state’s doses would be used by the end of the day. He has asked Pfizer to allow the state to purchase more vaccines directly.

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