ESSEX COUNTY, NY- Essex County health officials say the county has five confirmed COVID-19 cases, but as the coronavirus outbreak continues, they say there are likely more cases they don’t know about.
Linda Beers, director of Public Health for Essex County, said the number of confirmed cases is probably not accurate and likely the result of a shortage of tests. And she’s worried it’s giving residents a false impression of the outbreak.
“The low numbers here and anywhere in the North Country are misrepresentative, to let people have a sense that there is no COVID-19 here,” she said.
Essex County is rationing tests to focus on people admitted to the hospital, front-line healthcare workers and first responders.
“Most COVID can be managed at home. But without testing we have what people have been calling presumed positives,” said Beers. “People with all the symptoms, but unable to get the test.”
Beers said mandatory quarantining and isolation techniques are difficult to impose without confirmed positives. And having more people come to the Adirondaccks and surrounding areas from other parts of New York makes the virus harder to contain.
“We have an influx of people coming,” Beers said. “We we are well aware of that.”
Shaun Gillilland, Willsboro Town Supervisor and chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said the shortage of tests presvents local officials from understanding how the virus is spreading.
“You can’t come up here and get a test,” hs said. “This is a beautiful place a lot of people have second homes and they are our residents and our citizens as well, but we are trying to keep everyone safe,” said
And he is urging non-residents and other visitors to stay away so essential services in the region aren’t further stressed.
“We don’t have the medical infrastructure to take care of any surges,” he said. “Our grocery stores and places that provide necessities and stuff — they are not geared up to have that type of demand.”
“It’s not a full time or seasonal resident issue. It’s the issue of protecting everybody. The governor was quite clear. You’re safer at home.”
For more information on COVID-19 in Essex County, New York, click here.