CLAYTON — With a spike in coronavirus cases this week along the St. Lawrence River, more than 400 people showed up to get tested for the virus on Friday.
Are you more likely to stay home this weekend with the recent uptick in north country COVID cases?
The results of 427 total tests are expected early next week to confirm additional people have contracted the virus after people gathered on boats near Picton Island off Clayton during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
So many people suspected they were exposed to COVID-19 that tests were still given beyond the scheduled end time of 3 p.m. at the Clayton Fire Department. The state Department of Health provided the tests.
Not counting the tests that were completed in Clayton on Friday, eight more tests came back positive on Friday, bringing the total number of new cases in the county to 34 since Monday, according to Jefferson County’s daily coronavirus report.
“With today’s proactive testing approach to any remaining cases that might be linked to this past 4th of July weekend gatherings, we will have gone a long way to seize control of this unfortunate public health situation,” county officials said in the daily report.
“While we might see a measurable increase in reporting for a day or two next week, we should no longer see daily averages continuing as has been the case this past week.”
The Jefferson County Public Health Services and county officials hope that testing will prevent further spread of the virus.
While contact tracing and isolation continues on those cases, it does appear that two or three of them are not likely to be related at all to the situation along the riverfront communities, according to the county’s daily report.
Stephen A. Jennings, public health planner for the Jefferson County Public Health Service, said testing is the only way to stop the spread of the virus.
“Testing always helps,” he said. “Always, always, always.
While the July Fourth gathering caused the brunt of the illness’s spread, Mr. Jennings urged people to be diligent in wearing masks, obeying social distancing and not gathering in large groups.
Earlier this week, Clayton residents became concerned about an outbreak after people circulated around bars and restaurants last weekend. There were other boat gatherings along the river that weekend.
“The Clayton event was very successful and the DOH was amazed by the turnout considering very little public notification,” said Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Legislature. “The community is overwhelmingly appreciative.”
A state health department official told Mr. Gray that he was shocked so many people showed up to the Clayton testing with such little prior publicity, since 680 people were tested at a Utica event that received more attention.
The state health department official also “recognized the turnout of people from the businesses that have been affected was a good thing,” Mr. Gray said.
Two Clayton restaurants — DiPrinzio’s Kitchen and the Wood Boat Brewery — each had an employee test positive for the virus and temporarily closed while other workers were tested and their buildings underwent a deep cleaning.
Out of an abundance of caution, O’Brien’s Restaurant also closed and was cleaned. No employees tested positive as of Thursday.
There are now 37 people in mandatory isolation but still only one being hospitalized and another one having recovered for a new total of 107, according to the county. The number of precautionary quarantines decreased by 41 for a current total of 151 but mandatory quarantines increased to 156.