CATSKILL — As the number of COVID positive cases rise across the country, Greene County has been swept up in the wave with a noticeable uptick in recent days.
Greene County Public Health announced last Friday the county had 195 active positive cases, including 54 new cases in the prior two days.
That figure marked a leap up from the 135 active cases recorded just three days before. The county has recorded 83 COVID deaths since the pandemic began, with 14 Greene residents hospitalized and 322 individuals under quarantine.
Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said the county is keeping a close eye on the rising positive stats.
“I’m always concerned about the numbers,” he said. “We do seem to be paralleling the counties around us. I think that people are tired of COVID and they’re relaxing and maybe we’re not wearing masks as often as we should. We’re just tired of it. Everybody wants to go back to normal. But it’s safe to say that COVID is not going away. It’s not going to ebb down slowly, slowly. I’m not sure if it’s mutating, which is causing it to hold on.”
As of last Friday, the total percentage of tests in the county with positive results stands at 9.9%, up from 3.3% figure recorded Nov. 15.
The county stands at 27.4 positive cases per 100,000 people, with a seven-day rolling positive rate of 4.6% in Greene.
Greene County Legislator Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said there was no specific benchmark right now that could cause the county to change its course of action.
“Not at this point,” he said. “We’ve held other vaccine clinics recently that only had from 2 to 11 people that showed up. That’s a waste of resources as far as I’m concerned. People can schedule an appointment at just about any pharmacy to get their vaccine. So when we put forth the effort to do a clinic and only a couple of people show up, that’s not the best use of our resources.”
Groden said he expects cases in the county to rise through the holiday season and beyond.
“The holidays will be superspreaders because we’re all going to be in the house together,” he said. “I think at this point it’s just math. It’s going to be the simple algebra of how many people are you with and how many people are exposed? I think we’ll see an uptick after the holidays. Hopefully before the winter break the schools will have a lot of the kids and staff vaccinated. Logic just tells you that the more people are together at Christmas parties and what have you, the higher the percentages of exposure.”
Groden said he does not foresee the county amending its course of action at this point in the pandemic besides encouraging vaccination and mask wearing.
“I think we have to ride it out at this point,” he said. “We do have a high level of vaccination, especially now that the schools will get into it. I encourage people to get vaxxed. There’s really no reason not to. I know people have philosophical things, but why not? So we’ll continue to watch the numbers, but I don’t really see a big change of course for use from a public health standpoint. We’ll continue to test when we can and help the schools get the kids vaxxed for those parents who are going to sign off. In the meantime, just wear your mask.”
Linger agreed that the county hopes residents will take responsibility for themselves and other members in the community as long as COVID persists.
“Get vaccinated and get your booster when that time frame comes around,” Linger said. “If you’re not feeling well, just stay home and stay away from people. Don’t go out even for work or dinner or anything else. You’ve got to have some common sense.”
While COVID numbers are rising, Linger said he hoped the county could maintain a level that does not reach a crisis point.
“We are concerned, yes, but I think most people understand that there’s going to be a positivity rate here somewhere that’s going to be a normal rate,” he said. “You’re not going to see COVID go away. We’re going to find a rate that’s livable and we’re going to have to live with that. We can’t stop everything in life. So that being said, our public health department is tired, they’re still working every day.”
On July 2, the county recorded a single positive COVID test, a rate that has now risen to 195 in four months.
“You walk into a store and probably 80% of the people aren’t masked up,” Groden said. “That’s where you should be masked up, where mass levels of people are gathered. Just throw a damn mask on, will you please? Don’t take the chance, because I’ve seen a lot of people with it and it sucks.”