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With rising COVID spread and more deaths, Wayne County issues State of Emergency

by WayneTimes.com
December 11, 2021

As the Omicron variant becomes a pressing threat across New York, several counties have declared emergencies. In fact, New York is reporting an average of over 8,800 new cases daily.

On Monday (12/6), after an ambiguous letter was sent to media and social media posts, Wayne County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Kenneth Miller, declared a State of Emergency for Wayne County, NY in response to COVID-19.

The initial release prompted scores of calls and requests for clarification of the release. Following a meeting of the Board on Tuesday, the letter further explained with a more detailed release.

The second letter failed to legally require mask wearing in public and added ammunition to what several supervisors claimed was bowing to the vocal minority.

Meanwhile area school districts are reporting higher than normal absenteeism, or requiring week long quarantine of entire classrooms. Numbers of teaching and support staff have also succumbed to the prominent Delta variant.

On Thursday (12/9) Clyde/Savannah Central School Superintendent, Michael Hayden announced that, due to transportation staffing shortage, the District had to pivot to virtual learning. He added: “COVID related staffing shortages/absences are impacting all departments, and we are trying as hard as we can to maintain in-person learning for all students in a safe, efficient and orderly manner.”

Experts at MVP Health Care are encouraging New Yorkers to stay vigilant by wearing masks, staying away from crowded indoor spaces and getting vaccinated. Science recognizes that COVID- 19 vaccines are safe and effective, and increasing vaccination rates remain the only way to slow the spread of highly transmissible variants.

Rochester Regional Health has postponed all non-essential elective inpatient, 23 hour and same day elective hospital surgeries and procedures for at least two weeks at Rochester General Hospital and Unity Hospital and Newark-Wayne Hospitals.

Wayne County Administrator, Rick House said that, unlike Monroe County that is distributing free COVID Home test Kits, Wayne County has no such program.

House stated that the County is also strongly suggesting that all residents get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so and get their booster shots. “They should also mask in public and maintain safe social distancing”.

The County has also reinstituted the County Directive to all department heads to screen employees and ensure masking, social distancing, unless they are in their individual workspace.

“We don’t check people’s cards at any of our 8 county buildings. Residents must mask up when entering County buildings,” emphasized House.

He also stated that the County Administrator does not have the authority to mandate masking beyond county buildings. “Only

the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors can do that.”

By Friday (12/10), Wayne County Public Health confirmed that the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 is now at 11,262 and confirmed 106 new cases since Thursday’s report. 26 out of 106 new cases are among children (24.53%) Of the 11,262 positive cases, 10,410 cases resolved/recovered, 752 cases remain active and recovering, and there have been 100 deaths of people related to COVID-19. Currently, the County has 44 cases in need of hospitalization.

To date, Wayne County Public Health has administered 12,066 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 11,554 individuals have been fully vaccinated specifically through WCPH Clinics.

Facing a winter surge in COVID-19 infections, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday (12/10) morning that masks will be required in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.

Hochul said the decision to impose a mask mandate was based on state’s weekly seven-day case rate, as well as increasing hospitalizations.

The mask mandate applies to both patrons and staff and will be in effect from Dec. 13 to Jan. 15, after which the state will reevaluate.

“As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy,” Hochul, a Democrat, said in a news release. “The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season.”

Additionally, Hochul added she “warned” for weeks that additional steps could be necessary. “I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capac- ity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas.”

On Friday (12/10) afternoon Rick House sent a new directive to department heads and board members: “I, at the direction of Chairman Miller, will be re-instituting “COVID Safe Workplace” protocols that were outlined in Resolution 240-20. These temporary protocols will be put in the form of a formal policy that will be acted upon by the Board of Supervisors at their December 21st meeting. These protocols will be put in place as of today, December 10, 2021.

Please make sure that all of your staff and visitors are adhering to the protocols. I am allowing department head discretion as to methodologies used in adhering to the protocols, i.e., self-attestation procedures, density restrictions in common areas, such as hallways and waiting rooms, as long as CDC/NYSDOH guidelines are being adhered to.

Below are the protocols:

• All surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized in employees work areas throughout the day (shift).

• Temperatures of all employees will be taken upon arrival in the work area each day. If anyone

presents with a temperature over 100.4 degrees and/ or new or worsening COVID-like systems, the employee will be sent home. The employee will be instructed to obtain a COVID test from a health care facility either antigen or PCR test. Positive tests should be reported to Public Health. Self-attestation screening information (sample form from CDC attached) will be recorded daily.

• Employees are to wear a face mask while indoors in any area other than their own workspace.

• Social Distancing will be maintained at each work area.

• Visitors to any County building will be required to wear a face mask upon arrival and throughout the visit.

• Face masks will be provided to visitors if they do not have their own.

• Hand washing and sanitizing will be required throughout the day. Hand sanitizer will be provided.

• Employees will be reminded to stay home if they are feeling ill.

• Any employee that develops an illness during the day is to report such immediately to the Department Head/ Elected Official or designee. An ill employee will be sent home and instructed to seek care from their medical care provider.

• If a County vehicle is used for travel it must be sanitized before it is used and after it is returned.

• If a personal vehicle is being used for County business, the vehicle shall be sanitized before and after the transport of persons.

• If there is more than one occupant in a County vehicle or a personal vehicle used for County business, all occupants shall be wearing a face mask.”

House wrote: “No one likes to go backwards; however, in light of the serious situation we are in, we all need to work together to keep our employees and visitors safe. Let us all set a good example for our public.”

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