PORT HENRY – Five new COVID-19 cases have joined the four already identified at the Lee House senior apartments, the Essex County Public Health Department announced Thursday.
The nine cases in the cluster includes people living at the Lee House and their contacts, according to the Health Department.
Initially, three of the 40 residents of the Main Street housing complex tested positive last weekend after developing symptoms, causing the Essex County Board of Supervisors to suspend visitation at the facility owned by the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County.
The five additional cases were identified from 38 individuals swabbed at a testing site in the back of the Stewart’s Shop parking lot Thursday, with the State Wadsworth Laboratory processing and reporting results to the Health Department in less than 24 hours. Stewart’s is located down the block from the Lee House.
The testing was carried out by the County Health Department and Essex County Office of Emergency Services .
All nine confirmed cases have been issued isolation orders, with several others who had contact with them under quarantine orders.
“The Health Department has spoken with all new cases today (Friday) to issue isolation orders, conduct case investigations, and determine contacts that might be at risk of exposure,” said Director of Public Health Linda Beers in a news release.
“This uptick in cases we’re experiencing is not unique to Essex County and is an important reminder of how opportunistic this virus is when we let down our guard.
“We’re finding that even smaller, indoor family gatherings, really fuels the spread of this virus. As cold and flu season is upon us, it’s even more important than ever to closely follow mask wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, and gathering guidelines and get a flu shot.”
Beers said community members have called to express concern about personal activity at the Lee House apartments, after the Essex County Board of Supervisors suspended outside visitors to the building last Sunday.
“We want to remind the community that many of the residents are not under an isolation or quarantine order based on our assessment and are free to come and go from the building,” she said. “There are also several residents who receive essential medical or personal services, so there will still be some traffic in and out of the apartments.”
The Essex County Public Health Department is working closely with other county and regional departments and agencies, Beers said, including Mountain Lake Services, Essex County Department of Social Services, Essex County Office for the Aging, Office of Emergency Services, North County Home Services, Fort Hudson Health System, and the building owner, the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County.
She said they are working to meet the needs of Lee House residents by conducting wellness checks, delivering food, medication and supplies, and conducting cleaning and sanitization for mitigation and containment of the coronavirus.
Two additional cases of COVID-19 unrelated to the Lee House cluster were also reported to the County Health Department on Friday, one each in Moriah and Keene.