CANTON — The delta variant could be what is behind the recent rapid increase in cases of COVID-19 in St. Lawrence County.
“We were averaging two cases per day, then 10 or 12 and now it’s 30,” said St. Lawrence County Interim Public Health Director Jolene Munger.
On Thursday, Public Health reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 in St. Lawrence County from the previous three days.
The cases are from a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, Munger said. Many vaccinated people are finding out they are infected after being tested as part of a pre-surgery protocol, when they have no symptoms.
Unvaccinated people are ending up hospitalized or in the emergency room, she said.
From Aug. 1 through 17, Ms. Munger said, 21 people have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths reported.
Ms. Munger said she has to assume that the delta variant is having an impact on the county.
There are only five labs in the state that perform the procedure of sequencing to detect what variant of virus is causing infections.
“We don’t do sequencing in the county,” Ms. Munger said.
About 95% of the tests collected in St. Lawrence County are processed locally, providing a quick turnaround, she said.
The State Health Department does take samples from various counties for sequencing and Ms. Munger said it is very likely that St. Lawrence County is mirroring those statewide results which is at about 83% Delta.
“We are recommending masks again,” Ms. Munger said, while noting she is seeing an increase in people wanting to get vaccinated.
The impact is being felt regionally.
St. Lawrence is joined by Franklin, Lewis and Hamilton counties as being listed as having high transmission as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Jefferson, Herkimer and Essex counties maintain substantial transmission. Clinton County is holding at a moderate level.
The four levels — low, moderate, substantial and high — are based on the number of new cases per 100,000 people in a given week. Substantial classification equates to between 50 and 99 new cases; high classification means at least 100 new cases in a seven-day period.
In counties where transmission is substantial or high, the CDC recommends wearing masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
Vaccines will be available at several back to school events over the next two weeks including
Ogdensburg Free Academy on Aug. 23, Parishville-Hopkinton on Aug. 26, Clifton-Fine on Aug. 26,
Canton Central School on Sept. 1 and Edward-Knox on Sept. 9.
More information can be found the the Publice Health Department page at Stlawco.org.
In the north country region — grouped as Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex and Hamilton counties for COVID tracking — more than 1,800 people were vaccinated in the last week, according to the state Department of Health.
CDC data indicate roughly 70% of the region’s adults have completed a vaccine series as of Tuesday morning, bringing the rate for the total population up to about 58%.
St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties continue to host vaccination clinics. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines can be administered to anyone at least 12 years old. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available for anyone at least 18 years old. Vaccine and appointment information is posted to each county’s public health website.
The more than 200 active cases are spread throughout the county.
According to the county’s last active case map, Ogdensburg has 43 active cases, followed by Massena at 24, Potsdam 21, Lisbon 16, Pierrepont and Norfolk at 13 and 10 each in Canton and Stockholm.
Since the first case was reported on March 25, 2020, the county has confirmed 8,047 cases and 97 deaths. More than 350,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed.