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CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department has confirmed four positive cases of COVID-19 in the county. The first was revealed Wednesday. 

St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University each have one employee among the four cases.

On Thursday, St. Lawrence University President William Fox and Clarkson University officials notified faculty, staff and students with the news.

“All confirmed cases are individuals residing in St. Lawrence County,” the department’s press release stated. “With four confirmed cases in total at this time, all individuals have been isolated at home and are being monitored by the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department.”

Vice President for External Relations Kelly Chezum said the Clarkson employee had not been on campus since March 16. The individual did not live on campus, either.

“We wish the person the very best and a quick recovery,” she told the Times.

A post on Clarkson’s website said that the health department will notify any students, faculty, staff and community members who may have been exposed and will give further guidance.  

The health department has begun contact tracing of the infected people and speaking with anyone who has been in contact with them recently.

“When we find a positive case in the county, it starts with a thorough interview and that cascades into several other interviews just to find all the contacts. The message stays the same regardless whether we have one or ten cases. Please stay calm.” Public Health Director Dana McGuire said in a Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday.

Because the health department is tracking cases, it will no longer be reporting daily on the number of tests administered.

On Wednesday, there were about 100 tests pending.

“I write to inform you that the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department notified the University today that an employee of St. Lawrence University has a confirmed case of COVID-19,” Mr. Fox wrote in his letter to faculty, staff and students.

Neither the St. Lawrence University nor the Public Health Department will reveal the identity of the person.

“This individual will remain quarantined by the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department until their officials have cleared the individual. The individual did not live on campus and has been off campus since Monday, March 16, 2020,” Mr. Fox wrote.

The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department will notify students, faculty and staff who may have been exposed.

The president urged people to continue social distancing and assured that affected physical spaces will receive the recommended antiseptic cleaning.

In its news release, the public health department reiterated its need to keep the identities of people testing positive confidential.

“As with all the communicable diseases the Public Health Department is required to report to New York State Department of Health, there are many things related to cases that we are unable to share. It is important for us to maintain anonymity of all individuals involved. Knowing where cases are located should not change our actions. Coronavirus is highly contagious disease. We need to slow the community spread and ensure our health systems can handle the potential patient load,” the press release stated.

The health department again urged residents to follow the guidelines that have been widely broadcast:

1. Stay home, except for essentials. Stay six feet away from others. Self-monitor for symptoms. Contact your doctor if you need medical care.

2. Separate yourself from others (self-isolate) by using a separate bedroom and bathroom, avoid sharing all personal items if you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, if you have been tested for COVID-19 and/or have traveled back from an area within the state that has significant numbers of confirmed cases.

If you have recently returned from travel and have questions on whether you should self-isolate, please contact the public health department at: 315-244-4542.

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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