11 new Oneida County COVID cases as state aims at clusters

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Oneida County reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday as indicators of the pandemic in the Mohawk Valley region increased slightly and state authorities continued to focus on clusters downstate and in Binghamton.

Oneida County was tracking 86 known COVID-19 cases as of mid-day Monday, and 698 other people were quarantined because of contacts with people who tested positive. No new deaths were reported.

Five people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in the county, all in the Mohawk Valley Health System.

In the six-county Mohawk Valley region, the percentage of tests conducted each day that indicate COVID-19, averaged over the previous seven days, was 0.5%, unchanged from Tuesday. The number of new cases per 100,000 per day also averaged over the past week was 2.94, up from 2.83 on Tuesday. Gross hospitalizations per 100,000 over a week was 0.29; the number is considered a measure of the severity of infections and has generally stayed low, suggesting infections are most likely in young, healthy people with few risk factors.

Statewide, the figures were 1.3% positive-test rate, 7.03 cases per 100,000 a day, and 0.52 hospitalizations.

Among test results received by the state Health Department on Tuesday, 1.25 percent indicated COVID-19. If the 20 hot spots with the highest test rates were excluded, the state rate would be about 1.05%.

Broome County, around Binghamton, had a positive-test rate Tuesday of 6.1%, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call with news media Wednesday.

Binghamton University will pause in-person classes for two weeks, President Harvey Stenger announced Wednesday. Binghamton’s two-week case total remained under the state threshold for in-person shut down, but the pause is intended to contain the virus to an acceptable level, Stenger said in a letter to the campus community. The university had 89 estimated positive cases since Sept. 26, compared to its threshold of 100, according to the State University of New York online COVID-19 dashboard.

It’s the second SUNY campus in the Southern Tier or Central New York to suspend in-person teaching this week, after SUNY Cortland did so Monday. In Oneida County, Mohawk Valley Community College and SUNY Polytechnic Institute have had no confirmed cases since Sept. 26, according to SUNY's online dashboard.

Cuomo defended measures announced Tuesday to address hot spots, primarily in Brooklyn and Orange and Rockland counties, as necessary to contain outbreaks, including limiting religious gatherings to no more than 10 people at a time. Fourteen-day positive-test rates were as high as 17.8%, in Orange County in the lower Hudson Valley.

Cuomo also reiterated his view that he and state budget officials will not announce cuts in state spending and in revenue for localities and schools until after the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections. State government faces a budget deficit of an estimated $30 billion over two years because of loss of revenue related to the pandemic, or $50 billion if local governments and New York City-area transit is included, but Cuomo said it’s the fault of the federal government for not responding earlier to the pandemic. Without federal assistance, the state cannot make up the deficits without borrowing that will hurt its finances for years, Cuomo said Wednesday.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. cited lack of budget information from state government in seeking a delay in presenting his draft 2021 county budget to the Board of Legislators. The board last week approved letting Picente present his budget more than a month later than normal, on Nov. 12, more than week after Election Day.

Cuomo said he expects that a federal aid package will come through if fellow Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden is elected or if the U.S. Senate comes under Democratic control. If Republicans retain control, “Then we would be in a very negative place economically for the foreseeable future, but I’m not going to do any damage to the state’s economy unless you tell me that is the last resort,” Cuomo said.

“I will wait for those more probable outcomes before doing more irreversible damage.”

The Oneida County Health Department announced the following incidents of possible public exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and recommends anyone there at the time monitor themselves for symptoms:

Lowe’s on Erie Boulevard West in Rome, 2-5 p.m. Oct. 3; self-monitor through Oct. 17.

Haver’s Nice N Easy, 6-6:10 p.m. Oct. 3; self-monitor through Oct. 17.

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