With high Covid positivity rate in Orleans, health director urges precautions, recommends vaccine

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2021 at 8:09 am

ALBION – Orleans County has one of the highest positivity rates for Covid tests in the state, with 11.8 percent of tests coming back positive in the past seven days ending Monday.

Only Washington County, at 12.7 percent, tops Orleans. That county moved past Orleans for the highest 7-day average after having 27.3 percent of its tests – 84 out of 308 – test positive on Monday. (Orleans had 15.3 percent positive on Monday with 27 out 177.) Neighboring Genesee County is at 9.2 percent for its 7-day average.

The state 7-day average is currently 3.40 percent, putting Orleans more than three times the state average. The positivity rate varies around the state. Orleans is in the Finger Lakes Region which has a positive test rate of 8.73 percent, the highest in the state and just ahead of the 8.52 percent for Western New York. New York City has the lowest rate at 1.41 percent.

“It’s not just in Orleans and Genesee,” said Paul Pettit, public health director for those two counties. “We’re seeing increases throughout Finger Lakes and Western New York.”

The increased screening and surveillance testing is picking up more positives, he said.

And seasonal changes are bringing people back inside for gatherings, meetings and parties.

“This environment is more conducive to the spread of respiratory illnesses, including Covid,” Pettit said.

As the pandemic stretches to 20 months and counting, there is also fatigue from the public with less adherence to current CDC recommendations on masking, distancing, and staying home if symptomatic, Pettit said.

The Delta variant also spreads with a high infectivity rate and there is reduced efficacy in vaccines over time in preventing Covid, Pettit said. About 25 to 30 percent of the new Covid infections are “breakthrough cases” of people who had been vaccinated.

He continues to strongly recommend the vaccine to protect the public from Covid. “The vaccine is very effective in preventing severity of disease, including hospitalization and death.” He encourages people to get the vaccine booster shot “to get vaccine efficacy back up for increased protection.”

Pettit offered this advice to slow the spread of Covid: “Wear a mask when in crowded areas, stay home if you have symptoms, get vaccinated which will lessen the severity and get the booster.”