Officials In Rural Montgomery County Urge Public Not To Underestimate Virus | WAMC

Officials In Rural Montgomery County Urge Public Not To Underestimate Virus

Mar 25, 2020

Officials in rural Montgomery County, New York updated the public on the spread of COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon.

In Montgomery County, where at least four people have tested positive for COVID-19, officials are urging the public not to underestimate the virus.

Jessica Marotta is the county’s assistant public health director.

“It is in our community now and we need to do everything that we can to keep it from spreading and overwhelming our healthcare system,” said Marotta.

Montgomery County may have acres of wide-open farmland, but it’s already experiencing community spread of the virus. The county also has an older population than surrounding Capital Region locales.

On the Facebook Live event Tuesday, County Executive Matt Ossenfort asked viewers  to practice social distancing and be mindful of the senior population.

“We all know that this virus hits those that are elderly, with underlying conditions the hardest. So please, please be mindful of our senior citizens. Check in on them. Make sure that they are isolating themselves, they are quarantining themselves, and they are eliminating contact.”

Currently, testing is being prioritized for healthcare workers and those who are hospitalized. Of the four positive cases Tuesday, two were at home, and two have required medical care. Montgomery County has about 50,000 residents.

County public health director Sara Boerenko said so far, the county is fortunate in that it is seeing a lower number of cases.

"We are seeing one case at a time. We don’t have a cluster of folks in a nursing home. Or we don’t have a cluster of folks in one central location in our community. They are sporadic,” said Boerenko.

But things could most certainly change. Boerenko says the virus could have a larger impact as time goes on, compared to other local counties.

“We know that things tend to hit Montgomery County when they come up from downstate, or they come down from the northern part of the state. And I’m just cautioning folks that if we know there are places where folks are using Montgomery County for summer recreation, summer homes, then that is something we are going to have to take a look at and how that is going to impact us,” said Boerenko.

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that New York could experience a peak in COVID-19 cases in 14 to 21 days. Ossenfort said Montgomery County could be impacted later.

“And that’s what we understand, OK, New York state, big state, classified 14 to 21 days. That does not mean that in Montgomery County that could not be a few days or a week behind,” said Ossenfort.

The leaders repeated a common theme, asking residents to live their lives and check in on neighbors, but to practice common sense and maintain social distancing.

Like updates from public health officials in other local counties, the locations of the confirmed cases in Montgomery County were not made public.