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Health Department director says flu is also a menace this season

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2020 at 7:29 pm

Pettit urges younger people to not feel invincible to coronavirus

In addition to the concerns over the coronavirus, the Public Health Department in Orleans and Genesee counties warn this has been one of the worst flu seasons on record.

Orleans County has 249 confirmed cases up to March 7, including 24 the week ending March 7. In Genesee County, there are 562 cases of the flu this season, including 32 cases the week ending March 7, Paul Pettit, the Public Health director, said during a daily news briefing today.

Pettit has been updating reporters and the community with 4 p.m. press briefings since Tuesday.

Orleans County had its first confirmed case of coronavirus on Thursday. That person over age 60 is currently on vacation out of state. The person likely caught the virus in Orleans and then developed symptoms out of state. The person is in isolation, away from other people.

Genesee County reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus on Wednesday.

Pettit made a point today to tell younger people they aren’t safe from the virus.  In fact, the CDC reports that 38 percent of the people hospitalized in the United States are between the ages of 20 to 54.

“Younger folks can get this,” Pettit said during today’s conference. “Anybody can get Covid-19. We need to remind folks that just because you feel invincible, you feel strong, you can still get Covid-19.”

Younger people could be infected with the virus, but may not be as adversely affected by it as people who are elderly or immune-compromised. However, younger people can still spread the virus around the community, putting others at risk, Pwttit said.

He urged people to practice social distancing, staying at least six feet away from other people.

“Stay home if you’re sick,” he said. “We don’t want folks out and about if you’re sick.”

He urged people to wash their hands frequently, clean common areas such as door knobs, and call ahead to the doctor’s office if they are feeling symptoms of a respiratory illness.

Pettit said the Health Department and Emergency Management Office in both counties are pushing for more swabbing kits so more people can be tested for the coronavirus in Orleans and Genesee counties.

“We are still very frustrated by lack of swabbing kits,” Pettit said. “We’re doing our best and we’re working hard to get those.”

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