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Orleans hits milestone with 10,000 tests for Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 August 2020 at 9:51 am

Public health director says more testing still needed locally

ALBION – Orleans County hit a milestone on Monday with its 10,000th test for Covid-19.

The local health department puts out a daily update on Covid-19 cases, testing and other news each weekday. The report on Monday showed the county passed 10,000 tests. So far there have been 285 that were positive and 9,753 were negative for 10,038 total. That is a positive rate of 2.84 percent.

“That is a milestone number and 10,000 tests in a county of 40,000 people is a significant number,” said Paul Pettit, public health director for Orleans and Genesee counties.

However, he said that doesn’t mean 10,000 people have been tested because many people – hair stylists, first responders, nursing home and healthcare workers – have been tested multiple times.

“A lot of those are repeats,” Pettit said about the tests.

He would like to see more people be tested in the county. It’s harder to get tested in Orleans and the rural counties, compared to more populous areas of the state.

Orleans County officials have pressed the state to at least offer a mobile testing option in the county, even if only once a week where people could be tested for free. Right now they have to drive out of county to a state-sponsored testing site. That isn’t an option for many residents due to transportation issues, Pettit said.

It also isn’t fair to them to have to drive 45 minutes to an hour each way when larger counties have the test sites close by, he said.

Some healthcare providers in the county do Covid-19 testing, and Oak Orchard Health in Albion has been offering testing by appointment only if people have symptoms for Covid-19. (Call Oak Orchard at 585-589-5613 to be screened and to schedule an appointment.)

Pettit also said there is an issue with a delay in the test results. It often takes 7 to 10 days to get the results because the labs nationwide are being inundated with samples.

“That isn’t reasonable,” Pettit said about the wait for the test results. “It is very concerning.”

The people who are tested should self-quarantine until they get the results, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Pettit is pleased to see more people are being tested – and so few are testing positive. There were about 800 tests from the previous Monday with 3 testing positive (3 out of 793 for a positive rate of 0.38 percent.)

In Genesee County, 272 people have tested positive out of 18,809 tests for a positive rate of 1.44 percent.

Although the positive testing rate has dropped recently with only a few new cases, Pettit urged the community to not lower its guard against the virus.

“As schools as getting ready to reopen, it’s more important now than ever to stay vigilant,” Pettit said.

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