No confirmed cases of coronavirus in Orleans while Genesee, Wyoming each have 1

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2020 at 6:22 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Orleans and Genesee counties, speaks during a news conference on Monday at the old Genesee County Courthouse in Batavia. Genesee County Sheriff Bill Sheron is at left. On Monday there weren’t any confirmed cases of coronavirus in either Genesee or Orleans. Pettit was notified at 3 p.m. today that Genesee has its first confirmed case. That person, a 65-year-old man, will be in isolation for at least the next eight days.

BATAVIA – Genesee County has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus after a positive test from the Erie County Health Lab for a 65-year-old man.

That person has been in a quarantine since symptoms started to appear and will remain in isolation for at least another eight days, until he is no longer sick from the virus, said Paul Pettit, the Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans counties.

Orleans doesn’t have a confirmed case, but Pettit said the county’s neighbors have confirmed cases. He suspects it’s only a matter of time before Orleans has its first positive test.

There are five people in mandatory quarantine in Orleans County. Genesee also has 11 people in precautionary quarantine and two others in mandatory quarantine.

Wyoming County, another nearby rural county, also has its first confirmed case of coronavirus.

Pettit urged people to maintain a six-foot social distance if they are out in public, and to wash their hands frequently and wipe down common areas, such as doorknobs, with disinfectants.

“We do have community spread,” he said. “Hopefully this will be short-lived. In order to do that we need to be compliant and adore to the guidance that is being put out there.”

(Click here to see a video from the Batavia Daily News of the news conference this afternoon in Batavia.)

The Genesee & Orleans Health Departments is trying to get more swabbing kits so more people can be tested. Pettit said there is a big demand for those kits.

If people are feeling a respiratory illness, he said it may also be the flu which remains prevalent in the community.

He urged the public to take precautions to protect themselves and others from the virus. He is especially concerned for senior citizens and immune-compromised people who are more vulnerable to be harmed by the virus.

The 65-year-old man from Genesee County hadn’t traveled. That shows evidence of community spread, that the virus is within the community, Pettit said.

The Genesee County Department of Health has begun an investigation to identify potential close contacts of the individual who tested positive for the virus. Once identified, any close contacts will be notified of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and placed under mandatory quarantine to monitor for symptoms.

In order to hamper the spread of the virus, residents can practice social distancing and proper germ prevention practices:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Avoid people who are sick.

• Disinfect high-traffic surfaces often.

If you have questions about recent travel and symptoms regarding COVID-19, please call the NYSDOH Coronavirus hotline: 1-888-364-3065.

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