ELIZABETHTOWN — A resident here tested COVID-19 positive Monday, breaking Essex County's recent streak of no new cases.
The county of 37,000-plus residents had not recorded a new active case since Tuesday, May 25, but Monday's news was not a shock to Essex County Health Department Program Coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh, who noted continued, though low, case levels in neighboring counties.
"We certainly weren't expecting to never have another case again," she said Monday. "Twelve days was certainly a huge accomplishment in the sense that we were feeling very, very relieved, like we were on the other side — and I still think we feel like that's the case.
"It's disappointing in that we couldn't say that our streak had continued, but not a complete surprise by any means."
Whitmarsh easily remembered a time when Essex County's caseload was much less manageable, reaching a peak of 143 active cases following the holiday season in mid-January.
"Which was a lot for a small staffed county," she said, noting that, at the time, contact tracing was the bulk of the work.
"As we've transitioned into vaccinations, I would say our workload isn't less, but our focus is different. We are now working on getting the vaccine out to our community and that's a huge undertaking for a small staff, as well."
Part of the job these days was finding new ways to promote vaccinations, Whitemarsh said.
Essex County will Saturday, June 12 launch its "Brewing Immunity in our Community" initiative, setting up vaccination stations at several local breweries in upcoming weeks. The inaugural clinic will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery on Mirror Lake Drive.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available to those 18 years or older. Residents can register at tinyurl.com/zjn97b6d or walk up to check availability. As of Monday afternoon, 37 appointments were still available.
Information on other upcoming clinics can be viewed at co.essex.ny.us/Health/make-an-appointment/.
REACHING 70 PERCENT
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Monday announced most remaining business restrictions would become optional once 70 percent of adult New Yorkers received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
As of Monday, 66.3 percent of New York's adults were there and about 67 percent of those in Essex County were, too.
"So we're close," Whitemarsh said. "We're getting there and I think that one vaccine certainly offers some protection for sure."
Once achieved, capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening and the gathering of contact information for tracing would become optional for businesses in the retail, food service, office, gym and fitness center, amusement and family entertainment, and personal care service industries.
"The lifting of our COVID restrictions is a sign of how hard New Yorkers have worked to contain the spread of the virus and protect their communities," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's statement says. "With numbers trending at record lows, it is clear that the vaccine is effective and that it is an invaluable tool against the virus.
"While we have come so far it is still imperative that those who have not received the vaccine do so, so that they may enjoy the state's reimagined reopening to the fullest extent possible."
Just under 67 percent of Clinton County adults have reportedly received at least one COVID vaccine dose, while less than 57 percent have in Franklin County.
NO. CO. ROUNDUP
Essex County's sole active case was the least of the other tri-county figures Monday.
Clinton County Health Department and Franklin County Public Health each reported one new case Monday, bringing county caseloads up to five and 9 individuals, respectively.
Twenty Clinton County residents and 26 Franklin County residents were under quarantine.
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