MALONE –– As of Tuesday afternoon, Franklin County has nine active cases of COVID-19 infections, down from 11 on Monday, and a total 15 residents with confirmed tests for COVID-19, the same as on Monday. Another 93 people are considered “probable” –– people who have been identified as positive based on clinical observations but have not been tested –– a number that has stayed the same since Friday. All of those people are being tested, County Manager Donna Kissane said Monday.

The state has provided Franklin County with more than 1,000 test kits for the COVID-19 virus as the North Country region works toward meeting the final requirement to begin reopening its economy.

The county Emergency Operation Center announced Tuesday that 1,080 COVID-19 test kits have been received from the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, with the state assuring county officials that additional kits will be provided as needed.

Increased testing is the only one of seven criteria the North Country failed to meet by Monday, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that three regions of the state –– the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley –– could begin reopening Friday. With the additional test kits in hand, Franklin County officials say they hope the region can meet the state’s testing threshold by Friday.

The seven-county North Country region needs to test 30 residents per 1,000 residents monthly, based on a seven-day average of new tests each day, in order to meet the state’s mandate. As of Monday, the region was testing 400 people each day; it needs to average 419 people to meet the reopening standard, according to a state “dashboard” listing how each region is faring.

Franklin County officials estimate they will have to conduct about 50 tests each day to help the region meets its goal.

To date, Franklin County has tested a total of 946 people, 15 of whom tested positive and the remaining 931 testing negative, according to county figures.

The region has met the other six criteria –– declines in the number of hospitalizations and deaths, fewer than two new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over a three-day average, having 30% of both hospital beds and intensive care unit beds available and a sufficient number of contact tracers, as determined by the state Department of Health.

The state plans to reopen its economy by region and in phases. The first phase will permit the resumption of construction and manufacturing operations, wholesale trade and select retail businesses –– which can offer curbside pickup only –– agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Franklin County Public Health, in conjunction with the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone; the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake; and Mountain Medical Services Urgent Care, which has offices in Malone, Saranac Lake and Massena, will be offering increased testing to help meet the regional goal. Nursing home staff, health care workers, first responders, essential workers and symptomatic COVID-19 patients will be given priority, but members of the general public can also request a test at any of the facilities if they receive an order for one from their primary medical care provider.

The county Emergency Operation Center will also be receiving 10,000 cloth masks for the general public and gowns, face shields and gloves for medical operations. The COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment are being distributed as rapidly as possible, the county said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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