COVID-19 update: 100 new cases, three deaths

John Christensen
The Chronicle-Express

Families and friends ate urged to help elders without internet capability to register for vaccines

PENN YAN – As of Jan. 22, Yates County Public Health received 17 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total for the week to 100, with an overall pandemic total of 949. Eight of those 17 cases were close contacts of previous positive cases, three cases are long-term-care associated, one case was related to travel, and one case is a Penn Yan Central School District student. Seventeen people also recovered.

This represents the second week of declining new case numbers for Yates County, and while the seven-day positivity rate rose slightly to 8.9%, the 14-day rate finally dropped below 9% to 8.6%.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Public Health received notification of a COVID-19-related death associated with long-term care; an individual in their 70s. On Thursday, two more COVID-19 deaths in long-term care were recorded, individuals in their 70s and 90s. V

Vaccinations

Deputy Director Sara Christensen reports PCPH have received an overwhelming amount of emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls about COVID vaccine appointments, so many "we cannot get to them all," she says. She did provide some clarification for the 65 and up population who are are eligible under Phase 1B.

"Right now, you all know that vaccine is in very limited supply and it is estimated that it may be this way well into February and possibly March before supply is increased," Christensen says. "Public Health sets up vaccination clinics as vaccine becomes available. It is shipped to us once a week if we do in fact get any. If there is enough vaccine, community clinics will be set up.

"There are no wait lists at Public Health to be put on," she adds. "When a clinic is set up, a registration link is put on our FB page and website. You can go to the registration link and make an appointment. Yes, appointment slots are taken up very quickly. N.Y.S. has directed pharmacies to only vaccinate those 65 and up, and soon doctor offices will receive vaccine to start vaccinating this population as well."

Christensen warns that this population will have to continue to wait weeks or months, until there is more vaccine available to meet the demand. In Yates County, only Rite Aid in Penn Yan has received vaccine and their appointments are also very limited.

Rite Aid is using its own registration website, but it was soon overloaded and is currently undergoing improvements. The state's "Am I Eligible" website only gives New York state-ponsored vaccination clinic locations.

"When you fill out their form on the [states's] website, this is a one-time thing, and if you do not find any appointments after searching the locations, you then have to fill out the very same form again when you visit the site again," says Christensen. "By filling out the form, it does not put you on a wait list or any type of call back list for N.Y.S. vaccination clinics. We have no control over their website as well so please direct all your concerns and frustrations regarding the 'Am I eligible' site to the NYSDOH."

Public Health can assist those without internet access or ability to register for a Public Health clinic, if they have any appointments open.

"We are also asking family members and friends to help those without internet access in registering them when appointments become available," says Christensen.

YCPH has posted other pharmacy websites on the Public Health website as alternative options for those 65 and up to try making vaccination appointments.

"We understand the high level of frustration everyone is feeling," says Christensen, "and we are hoping each week we receive a little more vaccine to help meet the high demand."

Finger Lakes vaccine hub

In that effort to improve vaccine registration, on Saturday the Center for Community Health & Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center announced the Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Hub website. Users will find information about eligibility, area vaccination sites, the science behind vaccine development, and more, at https://flvaccinehub.org.