We hoped the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was over, but this cruel and highly contagious disease is still with us, clinging like an insidious vine.

COVID cases in Greene County are rising as the county’s public health department continues to push inoculations for the unvaccinated. Greene County Public Health reported 13 active positive cases Monday, an increase of four cases since Saturday. Forty-three people are in quarantine, an increase of 13 since Friday.

A more dramatic development related to COVID took place in Columbia County on Monday. Nearly two dozen campers at Camp Pontiac in Copake tested positive, according to the Columbia County Department of Health. All of the campers who tested positive are unvaccinated because they are too young to receive the inoculation.

Laboratories randomly test samples for the Delta Variant of the coronavirus but the presence of the virus’ delta variant in the Greene County cases was unconfirmed as of Tuesday. But county health officials believe the variant is likely present.

Greene County is considered a moderate risk for community transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The story is the same in Columbia County, which has recently moved from low risk to moderate risk for community transmission of COVID-19.

Health officials in Greene County stepped up a campaign to post locations where free and walk-in vaccines are available, including pharmacies in Catskill, Cairo and Greenville. For the homebound individuals, the department said it can organize home vaccination visits upon request.

The Camp Pontiac outbreak presents a more complex scenario in Columbia County. In addition to the 23 campers, 65 other children are considered contacts. These children were sent home as well, but they can return once they go through the quarantine period.

Greene County’s full vaccination rate is 48.3% for adults 18 and over, well below the New York state average. Columbia County health officials will be monitoring the Camp Pontiac situation closely as the camp owners — two physicians, fortuitously enough — work to ensure the safety of the children if and when they return.

That’s the good news. The bad news is we have our work cut out for us as summer heads into fall and schools reopens.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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