In northern New York this week, the Clinton County Health Department reported nearly three dozen new COVID-19 cases. While the numbers compared to other areas of the state are low, it reflects an upward trend that concerns local officials.
During a Thursday press briefing Clinton County Director of Public Health John Kanoza reported that there are 43 active cases in isolation with 28 associated with SUNY Plattsburgh and 11 with Clinton Correctional facility in Dannemora. “Over the past week we have seen a significant uptick in positive cases in our community. In response to this increase we have expanded our Incident Command System which includes multiple county departments such as public health, law enforcement emergency services.”
As of Thursday evening SUNY Plattsburgh had recorded 29 new cases in 11 days. Overall 117 students have been quarantined, 80 of them on-campus. College President Dr. Alexander Enyedi says the increase does not appear to be caused by any irresponsible actions by students. “In our analysis of the data that's come in the last two weeks we're seeing what we would call proximate contacts. There was no party. There was no large social gathering. This is just regular social interactions that are happening not just within the SUNY Plattsburgh community, but the entire community.”
Enyedi said the college had anticipated increased cases of COVID-19 and is following its pandemic response plan. “As the number of cases increased in the past week we have stopped our fitness center activities. We have essentially eliminated or stopped any athletics activities that are happening on the campus. We have ramped up our testing. We are doing a process called surveillance pool testing. We take saliva samples from 12 students. We pool the samples into a single test tube and we're able to get an analysis back from the Upstate Medical facility that provides information as to any one of those students who might be COVID positive. Upstate Medical reruns those samples and we're able to identify who that individual is in the pool.”
Dr. Enyedi also said that while campuses have a 100-case threshold before remote instruction is mandated by the state, isolation capacity is also considered. “Where this is determined is I think an evaluation not just of the case load but of the capacity that what a campus would have for isolation or for quarantine. So we’re at 25% of that capacity.”
The cases at Clinton Correctional appear to be receding according to information that Kanoza has received. “We did have 11 inmates at the facility that were positive for COVID. In talking with a representative up there he was quite confident that they had the last of their cases for that. That's all I know at this point. I had also heard from the union, NYSCOPBA, that they were working on their final cases.”
The full Clinton County Health Department meeting can be viewed below.