Essex Co. reports four new COVID deaths

New outbreak found at Essex Center nursing home

3D illustration

The Essex County Health Department recorded four new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, and public health officials said two of these have been linked to an outbreak at the Essex Center nursing home in Elizabethtown.

ECHD Program Coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh said there have been 28 cases identified in this latest Essex Center outbreak, which they’ve determined started in late November but was not identified until Tuesday. She said 20 residents and four staff there are currently positive for COVID-19.

Three of the five people who died from COVID-19 in the county this week were Essex Center residents, according to the health department.

A fourth Essex Center resident back in November, Whitmarsh said.

“The facility is working with the state Department of Health, the entity responsible for nursing home oversight, and has implemented outbreak control protocols,” Whitmarsh said.

Last year, the Essex Center had the deadliest outbreak of the virus to date in the Essex County. Altogether, 16 residents or patients died from COVID-19 there last year. In early November, there was another outbreak of the virus at Essex Center, with 17 residents and three staff testing positive.

Whitmarsh said of the four COVID-19 deaths ECHD recorded on Wednesday, one individual was unvaccinated and hospitalized prior to their death, one was an Essex Center resident who was not fully vaccinated and was hospitalized prior to their death, and two were fully vaccinated and hospitalized prior to their deaths — one had gotten a booster shot within the past two weeks. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting their booster shot.

In total, 47 people have died from COVID-19 in Essex County throughout the pandemic.

Franklin County Public Health recorded 65 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 309 active cases. A map FCPH created using data from Tuesday shows 34 cases in Tupper Lake and 30 in Harrietstown.

In total, 27 people have died from COVID-19 in Franklin County throughout the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Adirondack Health reported that it had five people hospitalized who tested positive for COVID-19 and two were on ventilators.

November summary

The ECHD on Wednesday released a summary of vaccination statuses and other analyses of cases throughout November. Whitmarsh said this represents a brief snapshot in time.

The county recorded 595 new COVID-19 cases in November, 55% of which were among those not vaccinated.

Of the 21 COVID-related hospitalizations the county saw in November, 11 were patients who were not vaccinated and 10 patients were vaccinated. ECHD said eight of these vaccinated people who were hospitalized had not received a booster shot.

“Mirroring the trend announced a few weeks ago by the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Essex County is starting to see an uptick in hospitalizations among people who have been vaccinated, but not boosted,” Whitmarsh wrote.

ECHD Director Linda Beers said many of these people being hospitalized are over 65 years old and that people should be getting booster shots to protect against COVID-19 as much as possible.

“We know that immune response is not as robust as we age, meaning protection from the vaccination for older individuals isn’t as strong as it is for younger age groups,” Beers said in a statement. “Couple that with overall vaccine effectiveness starting to wane after several months, we are now seeing increases in hospitalizations for vaccinated folks who are 65, underscoring the need for boosters.”

Whitmarsh said data from the CDC showed that in September, unvaccinated people were almost six times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 14 times more likely to die from a COVID-19 infection.

Essex County saw four COVID-19 deaths in November. According to ECHD, two were vaccinated, two were not and none had received a booster shot.

“The rate of disease is much lower for those who received their booster shot,” ECHD Health Promotion and Planning Director Jessica Darney Buehler said in a statement. “The highest risk for hospitalization and death is still among those people who are unvaccinated, so we know the vaccines are working as intended.”

The county had 203 cases in schools in November, largely among students. ECHD said 34% of all November cases were among school-age students or staff, with students making up over three-fourths of those cases.

Vaccine clinics

Vaccine appointments for the three FDA-approved vaccines at ECHD offices can be made by going to https://bit.ly/3rN29Uh or by calling 518-873-3500.

Franklin County Public Health will hold a Pfizer and Moderna booster clinic in Tupper Lake on Dec. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Holy Ghost Academy, 40 Marion St.

These doses are for people ages 18 and up. Drop-ins are welcome, but will be limited according to how much vaccine is on hand, so priority will be given to those who pre-register. To register for a Pfizer dose, go to https://on.ny.gov/3pDcgIA. To register for a Moderna dose, go to https://on.ny.gov/3DDA0S3.

Franklin County Public Transportation is offering free rides to seniors to vaccine clinics, which must be set up one day in advance and can be scheduled by calling 518-483-9000.

Akwesasne outbreak

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is currently experiencing a heightened level of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The numbers of new and total active cases are rising sharply in the second week of December, according to data from the tribe.

On Wednesday, the tribe’s Emergency Operations Center and Health Services reported eight new cases, with a total of 27 active cases.

Three people are hospitalized with COVID-19, the center reported, but two are not considered active cases.

“We extend them best wishes for a safe and healthy recovery,” the tribe wrote in a statement.

In total, the tribe has seen 612 cases and five deaths related to COVID-19.

SRMT currently has a 55% vaccination rate and is offering several vaccine clinics for adults and children.

The tribe’s Emergency Operations Center and Health Services will hold pediatric Pfizer vaccine clinics on Dec. 14 and 22 at its main campus at 404 state Route 37.

These clinics are open for Akwesasne or tribally-enrolled children ages 5 to 11. They are walk-in clinics but appointments are suggested and can be made by calling 518-358-3142.

The tribe’s Health Services department is also holding walk-in Pfizer or Moderna vaccine clinics for adults and children 12 years old or older every Wednesday at the former IGA building, 850 state Route 37 in Hogansburg, from 12 to 4 p.m.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Health Services department is distributing at-home COVID-19 testing kits for free on Tuesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. at the clinic’s testing garage at 404 state Route 37 in Hogansburg. These tests are to be used if people are displaying symptoms.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today