Public health officials in the north country are sounding the alarm about a spike in new cases of the novel coronavirus, and for good reason.
The tri-county area confirmed 92 positive test results between Friday and Tuesday. If residents do not take this ongoing pandemic seriously, more rules could be implemented to lower the numbers.
Members of the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators declared a state of emergency during their meeting Monday, which went into effect Tuesday. There were 40 new cases confirmed last week, with 26 new cases logged Saturday and Sunday and eight Tuesday.
“There are options related to restrictions of travel and things like that,” county Administrator Ruth A. Doyle said Monday, according to a story published Monday by the Watertown Daily Times (http://wdt.me/9EM573). “None are in place at this time; they would come out as emergency orders under the state of emergency, but we are very concerned. And I think getting the attention of county residents, heightening their awareness of what’s happening with the cases, is really important.”
What’s peculiar is that while St. Lawrence County legislators heard about a growing number of positive cases Monday, most of them failed to adhere to safety protocols. Eight of the nine legislators present didn’t wear masks for much of the meeting. Legislators Larry Denesha, R-DeKalb, proved the exception, wearing a mask throughout the proceedings.
All students at J.W. Leary Junior High School in Massena began remote learning Tuesday; this will remain in effect until Nov. 20. Officials of Massena Central School District discovered that additional staff members had come into contact with an individual who tested positive. Students at St. Lawrence University in Canton went to remote learning this week after the school detected traces of the coronavirus in its wastewater.
Jefferson County recorded 14 new cases Monday and four Tuesday. Watertown City School District announced Monday that another student has tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing this number to 11.
Lewis County saw its confirmed numbers rise by 17 cases Monday and nine Tuesday. The county had five new cases Saturday and eight Sunday. Middle schoolers at Copenhagen Central School District went to remote learning Thursday due to the number of teachers who have been placed in quarantine.
Other parts of Northern New York have reported sobering news as well.
Franklin County recorded its first two deaths due to COVID-19 this week. Students at all schools in the county switched to remote learning until Jan. 4.
State Assemblyman William A. Barclay, R-Pulaski, announced Monday that he has become infected.
“As a precautionary measure, I took a COVID-19 test today,” he said in a news release. “Regrettably, I have tested positive for the virus. Since the start of the outbreak, I have taken social distancing guidelines very seriously and I encourage others to continue to do so. I’m optimistic for a quick turnaround.”
Our colleagues at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake also have been affected. The newspaper tweeted the following Monday: “An Enterprise reporter who interviewed voters on Election Day has tested positive for COVID-19, and much of the newspaper’s staff has been placed on quarantine until Nov. 17. The Enterprise will continue to publish, both in print and online.”
These are very unfortunate instances, and we hope everyone identified as infected makes it through this ordeal safely. COVID-19 can seriously impair people even if they survive, so it’s crucial that we all remain cautious.
The rules about wearing masks, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet, frequently washing hands and disinfecting surfaces regularly are just as vital now as they were when the pandemic began. We don’t want the state to reimpose restrictions, so we must find ways to control this crisis ourselves.