AMC sees influx of COVID patients

Franklin, Essex counties each record one new COVID death

SARANAC LAKE — There are currently 10 people hospitalized at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake who have tested positive for COVID-19, with one on a ventilator.

Adirondack Health Spokesman Matt Scollin said nine of these new cases came in over the weekend, and that seven of those nine are unvaccinated. This is the most people AMC has had hospitalized with COVID-19 at one time since the start of the pandemic.

Before the weekend, the hospital was reporting seven COVID-positive inpatients.

Previously, the most hospitalizations AMC had at one time was seven on Oct. 25.

Scollin said the surge of hospitalizations means AMC staff are putting their “surge and flex” plans — made in the event of an influx of COVID patients — into action. He said each hospital is required to file these plans with the state to ensure that if there’s a surge in one area of the hospital, that need is met while staffing the other areas of the hospital.

“We haven’t had to surge or flex to a huge degree at this point, but it’s getting more complicated with the increase in COVID inpatients,” Scollin said. “It’s a challenge. There’s more patients and there are not any more clinicians, so we just have to figure it out.”

Two new deaths

Franklin County Public Health reported one new COVID-19-related death Monday morning. In Franklin County, a total of 26 people have now died from COVID-19.

Franklin County Public Health Director Kathleen Strack said this death came from the state Department of Health’s tracker, so she does not have information about who this might be.

The Essex County Public Health Department reported Monday that a fully vaccinated resident of the Essex Center nursing home in Elizabethtown died from COVID-19.

In total, 41 deaths in Essex County have now been attributed to COVID-19.

Last year, an outbreak at Essex Center had the deadliest cluster of the virus to date in the Essex County. Altogether, 16 residents or patients died from COVID-19.

Franklin County tallied 30 new cases on Monday. There were 198 active cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Monday. Franklin Correctional in Malone is reporting that five inmates have the virus and Franklin County Jail in Malone is reporting two positive cases.

Essex County Public Health Department on Monday recorded 102 new cases of COVID-19 since its last report on Nov. 22. The town of North Elba saw the largest jump, with 18 new cases. The town of Jay also reported 12 new cases; St. Armand reported three new cases.

There were 113 active cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Monday. Two of the 102 new cases reported Monday are residents at a nursing home, prison or other congregate facility.

There are four active cases reported among staff at the Federal Correctional Institute at Ray Brook prison.

Vaccines urged before holidays

Last week, Essex County Health Department Program Coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh said the North Country is still in an “active pandemic” phase and that “positivity rates are as high as ever.”

The rise in cases recently is similar to the rise in COVID-19 cases this area saw at this time last year. At that time, public health officials attributed the rise in cases to holiday gatherings. This year, the numbers of active cases are several times higher than in 2020.

Whitmarsh said the county’s contract tracing efforts are showing a trend of larger household spread this year, which she attributed to the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Public health officials continue to urge caution at holiday gatherings and are encouraging people to get vaccinated.

In September, one-quarter of positive cases reported to ECHD were fully vaccinated individuals, Whitmarsh said. In October, that increased to 39%.

Strack said vaccines will not keep people 100% healthy in a pandemic, but they work to lessen symptoms, reduce spread and possibly save lives.

Franklin County Public Health Public Health Educator Sarah Granquist said since the county started recording the vaccination status of new COVID-19 positive cases in July, 55.5% of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been unvaccinated, 34.58% have been vaccinated and the rest have an unknown vaccination status.

Franklin County Public Health plans to hold vaccine clinics on every Thursday in December. The majority of these will be in Malone, but on Dec. 30, FCPH will hold a Pfizer booster clinic in Tupper Lake at Holy Ghost Academy, 40 Marion St., from 2 to 6 p.m. This clinic will be for ages 18 and up. FCPH said drop-ins are welcome, but there will be a limited number of doses and priority will be given to those who pre-register.

Registration links have not yet been issued for these clinics.


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