County at ‘substantial risk level’ of COVID spread


UTICA — With positivity rate averaging 3.2% on a seven-day average, a nearly 2% increase in the past eight days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now identified Oneida County as being a community with a substantial risk level of transmission of COVID-19, according to an announcement Thursday by the Oneida County Department of Health. 

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again increasing across the country fueled by the Delta variant, the announcement said, adding the highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates. The Delta variant, which is present in New York, is much more contagious than past version of the virus, the announcement said.

The CDC recommends that communities with substantial risk implement additional mitigation strategies. CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors while in public. Additionally, if exposed to a COVID positive person, CDC advises fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even without symptoms. The county, the announcement said, is not instituting any communitywide mandates related to the CDC recommendations at this time.

“All unvaccinated people should get vaccinated to not only protect yourself, but your family and loved ones,” the Oneida County Department of Health announcement said. “Vaccines are readily available throughout Oneida County. Until you are fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear masks and keep six-feet (of) distance when in public.” Appointments can be made at 

“Our community has worked hard over the last 17 months to fight this virus. We have all made sacrifices to help protect ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. We now have the key to ending this once and for all, the vaccine. We need those who are unvaccinated and have been hesitant to get their vaccine immediately,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. “If you’re not already vaccinated, make an appointment today.”

According to state figures, 57.7% of the county’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated while 62.1% of county residents age 12 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Statewide, 67.2% of New Yorkers over the age of 18 had been fully vaccinated, which translates to 56% of state residents of any age.

“Vaccines have been vital in protecting people from illness and death for many years. This is no different. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated immediately”, stated Daniel W. Gilmore, PH.D., MPH, Director of Health for Oneida County Health Department.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in a statement, attributed the rising rate to the continued spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

“As we see the Delta variant continue to spread, primarily among unvaccinated individuals, it is now more important than ever that those who remain unvaccinated get their shot,” he said in a statement, “If you haven’t already, get your vaccine today so that you can protect yourself, your loved ones and your communities against COVID and we can defeat this virus once and for all.”

In Oneida County, The weekly percentage rate of COVID-positive diagnostic tests jumped from 1.2% for the week ending July 27 to 3.2% for the week ending Aug. 3, according to information on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.

There have been no virus-related deaths in Oneida County since July 26.

Health officials have long said that 70% of a population group is recommended for “herd immunity.”

Tenney on COVID-19 origin

In other pandemic-related news, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, R-22, New Hartford - a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - released a Thursday statement regarding the committee’s additional findings on COVID-19’s origin.

In a statement, Tenney said, “My Republican colleagues and I on the Foreign Affairs Committee released a report this week detailing COVID-19’s origin from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Communist Party’s extensive efforts to cover it up. With these facts now in hand, it’s time to act … Republicans in Congress have introduced several comprehensive bills to hold China accountable and deliver justice to the American people, but Speaker Pelosi refuses to bring them up for consideration. As Pelosi continues to stonewall in Congress, President Biden is not doing any better. He must take action to hold the CCP and institutions that were complicit in COVID’s spread like the World Health Organization accountable. If this happened once, it can happen again. Every day Speaker Pelosi and President Biden fail to act, the American people are at grave risk. Over 600,000 Americans died from COVID-19, including over 1,300 New Yorkers in my community. They deserve justice.”

Excelsior Pass Plus

On Thursday, the governor’s office announced the launch of Excelsior Pass Plus to expand travel and commerce opportunities for New Yorkers by enabling compatibility between New York State’s Excelsior Pass platform - which provides digital proof of vaccination or negative test result - and the highly secure, globally recognized SMART Health Cards Framework.

“Excelsior Pass Plus users can securely upload their verified COVID-19 vaccination credentials to VeriFLY, and travel through American Airlines to Greece, France, Spain, Italy, and the Bahamas, and on indirect flights to El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, and Puerto Rico. The list will continue to grow as partnerships facilitating access to more countries are in development,” a release continues.

For more information, visit:

COVID-19 information links

In Oneida County, vaccine appointments and walk-ins are available at county-operated sites. To book an appointment, visit

Scheduling a vaccine appointment can also be completed at:

COVID-19 case numbers and vaccination rates are available on Oneida County’s online Dashboard at:

The New York State Department of Health offers statewide information on COVID-19 at:


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