In a sign that the pandemic is in a state of resurgence, Ulster County, Monday, reported its highest number of COVID-active cases since early spring.
The county’s online dashboard reported that it had 48 more positive cases out of 996 tests Sunday, a 4.8% daily positivity rate. The active cases are now at 928 — the first time Ulster has gone over 900 since April 28. The county’s all-time high occurred on April 26, when it was 1,009.
Ulster also reported two deaths due to COVID-19, bringing its fatalities over 100. The county, which now has 101 deaths, had reported only one individual dying from COVID in nearly a month before this news.
Since March, Ulster has 3,441 confirmed cases and 2,412 recoveries. There are currently 928 active cases, with 101 fatalities.
Locally, the breakdown of cases by municipality is as follows:
Lloyd: 81 active; 277 confirmed; 181 recovered and 4 fatalities.
Marlborough: 51 active; 236 confirmed;182 recovered and 3 fatalities.
Plattekill: 71 active; 264 confirmed; 186 recovered and 7 fatalities
Gardiner: 21 active; 71 confirmed; 50 recovered and 0 fatalities.
Esopus: 28 active; 122 confirmed; 94 recovered and 0 fatalities
The good news for the county is that the county is preparing and is expecting their first round of vaccines in late December- early January. The bad news is that there could be a shortage of staff to administer tests and vaccines.
Deputy County Executive Marc Rider said at Monday’s Ulster County Legislature Public Health and Social Services Committee meeting that testing is much more widespread, which leads to higher numbers of positives, the current average hospitalization rates and positive cases are exceeding that of March-April.
“While back then, at the peak, we may have had 1,000 individuals who were active, our numbers on a daily case-by-case basis are actually higher now, on a 14 day to 30-day average, than they were back then,” Rider said. “We’re near our peak essentially, or not near our peak, we’re near our past peak, but we’re just continuing to rise,” he said.
The county has received CARES Act funding for two LPNs and a supervising public health nurse starting in January, but they may have to continue using contracted nurses if cases continue to rise at the rate they are. The county is also creating the position of director of COVID Operations to accommodate the county’s needs and provide leadership in this area during the current wave.
Since the county is expecting their first round of COVID vaccines by January, the hope is infected numbers will begin to round out before things get out of control.
Vaccinations will be rolled out in four phases, the first of which goes to healthcare workers. After that, it will go to long-term care facilities, then to EMS and essential workers before it is given to the general public.
The vaccines, that are predicted to come from Pfizer and/or Moderna, will require two inoculations approximately a month apart.
Local schools, meanwhile, continue their hybrid learning models, a mix of in-school learning and remote access teaching. The Wallkill School District reported on Monday that two students – one from Plattekill Elementary and the other from Ostrander Elementary in Wallkill - had tested positive for Coronavirus. Neither student, the district reports, has been in school since Nov. 19 and both will remain in isolation. The current instructional schedule for those two schools will not be impacted.
In Highland, the district reported an online classroom incident Tuesday morning in which someone posing as a middle school student logged into a Zoom class and displayed inappropriate/lewd images on their computer screen. Schools Superintendent Thomas M. Bongiovi reports that as soon as the teacher was aware, they immediately removed that person from the Zoom. After reviewing the available information about the incident, the District believes that the most likely explanation of how this incident was possible is that a student(s) shared the Zoom link to access the class on social media.
“I ask parents and guardians to please take a moment to speak with their children about being safe and responsible during online learning. In order for us to keep all students and staff safe, I implore all students and members of our community to be vigilant in not sharing Zoom links outside of Highland’s Schoology platform,” Bongiovi wrote in a letter to parents. “ Unfortunately, it has become popular for children to post the links to their Zoom meetings on public Tik Tok and other social media accounts, hindering the effectiveness of the security measures that have been put in place. “