The Essex County Health Department is warning residents that the county is currently experiencing its biggest surge of COVID-19 cases to date.
Both Franklin and Essex counties reported one COVID-19 death each on Monday. The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe says they are seeing high COVID-19 numbers, too, with four community members hospitalized with “severe symptoms.”
The Essex County Health Department said the person who died in that county had been fully vaccinated, but had not gotten a booster shot, and the person was hospitalized prior to their death. In total, 43 people have died from COVID-19 in Essex County throughout the pandemic.
Franklin County Public Health Director Kathleen Strack said the COVID-19 death in her county on Monday was reported through the state’s COVID-19 tracking site, so she did not have more information on the person’s vaccination status or if they had been hospitalized.
In total, 27 people have died from COVID-19 in Franklin County.
In a statement this past Friday, ECHD said COVID-19 is more prevalent here, now, than it ever has been.
“Essex County is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, surpassing even the highest new daily case totals seen during the winter surge last year,” ECHD Program Coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh wrote in a press release. “Household and private family gatherings are spurring the majority of cases.”
She said this is a trend seen across the North Country and the state.
“What makes this different from previous waves is the sustained high case numbers being reported to us each day, and the span in age of those getting more severely ill,” ECHD Public Health Director Linda Beers said in a statement. “It’s not just the elderly population getting severely sick or hospitalized and we’re concerned that this is only the beginning with the holidays looming.”
The health department said with the newly discovered omicron variant of the virus showing up in New York, the importance of getting vaccinated and taking measures to prevent spread is heightened. With the world only aware of the new variant for about two weeks, there are many unknowns about the variant.
“We have safe, free and effective vaccines that have been taken by over 200 million Americans,” Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shaun Gillilland said in a statement. “These vaccines offer astonishingly great protection in terms of keeping people from being hospitalized or dying and we need that to be our focus.”
ECHD said new variants of the virus are expected to occur, and the FDA-approved vaccines are expected to be effective by preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths, even in new variants.
Essex County recorded 91 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, and reported 174 active cases on Monday. Fourteen of those new cases were in North Elba, seven in Jay, four in St. Armand and one in Keene. One of the new cases is someone in a nursing home, prison or other congregate living setting.
Franklin County reported 65 new positive cases on Tuesday, with 300 active cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Tuesday.
A map FCPH created using data from Sunday showed 33 active cases in Tupper Lake and 27 in Harrietstown.
On Tuesday, Adirondack Health reported that five people at its Saranac Lake hospital were positive with COVID-19, with two on ventilators.
Two of those people are not vaccinated, one is, and two have unknown vaccination statuses.
Of the state’s 10 regions, the North Country had the third test highest positivity rate on Sunday, according to the state Department of Health, with 8.81% of all COVID-19 tests in the region returning positive.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe reported on Monday that four of its community members are currently hospitalized with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The tribe had 21 active cases of COVID-19 within its jurisdiction as of Monday, but only two of the hospitalizations are currently considered active cases.
The tribe said it has seen 600 COVID-19 cases since March 28, 2020.
“The total number of active cases is the highest reported in the past two months,” SRMT Communications Director Brendan White wrote in a statement. “With cases continuing to rise, due to seasonal and other celebratory gatherings, individuals are urged to get tested before and after gatherings, as well please choose to get vaccinated to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.”
The tribe’s Emergency Operations Center and Health Services will hold pediatric Pfizer vaccine clinics on Dec. 14 and 22 at its main campus at 404 state Route 37.
These clinics are open for Akwesasne or tribally-enrolled children ages 5 to 11. They are walk-in clinics but appointments are suggested and can be made by calling 518-358-3142.
The tribe’s Health Services department is also holding walk-in Pfizer or Moderna vaccine clinics for adults and children 12 years old or older every Wednesday at the former IGA building, 850 state Route 37 in Hogansburg, from 12 to 4 p.m.