The Clinton County Health Department held a virtual update on the status of the pandemic in New York’s northernmost county including a look at the start of vaccinations at the local medical center.
Since the Thanksgiving holiday the Clinton County Health Department has seen over 200 new COVID-19 cases in the county. Director of Public Health John Kanoza said there are now 132 active cases. He said the numbers reflect a significant increase in positive cases compared to summer and early fall — similar to what is occurring across New York. “The spread of COVID-19 is largely occurring between friends and family members. People are taking the appropriate precautions when they are out in public such as wearing face masks, separation distancing. But then they’re getting together with friends and family members who don’t live in their home and they’re not taking those same precautions during those interactions. And some do spread COVID to others without ever showing symptoms themselves. If your holiday plans involve individuals who do not live in your households we urge you to reconsider your plans.”
Kanoza said they are “ecstatic” that there is now an approved vaccine but also cautioned that its rollout will not occur overnight. The CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh received an initial shipment this week. Infectious Disease Physician and VP for Population Health and Information Services Dr. Wouter Rietsema said about 200 hospital employees have been vaccinated this week. “Most of the people vaccinated in the first couple of days work in direct patient care. We will continue to work through our staff over the next six to eight weeks. It’s going to take that long because of course there is a 21 or 28 day space between dose one and dose two. As the supplies increase we as a state will move to the next tier which will be health care workers outside of a hospital setting and the highest risk individuals in the community. And I want to stress large scale vaccination of the public is in the wheelhouse of the health departments and they will be leading this effort. That is where our expertise ends.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday the state is creating Regional Vaccine Hubs to be led by regional hospital systems. The CVPH Medical Center is the designated North Country hub. Dr. Rietsema says there has been some confusion from the general public and explained what the hospital’s role will be. “We are not a hub for actually performing vaccination. That is not what these hubs are for. Nor are these hubs for distribution of the actual vaccine. The hub is really to serve as a convening group of the relevant people across a region, and our region is a seven county region, for planning and to make sure that every county and region has what they need and has the ability to effect their plans to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations and eventually the general population. So we are a planning hub.”