ORLEANS COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Western New York county, Orleans County, is considered to have an alarmingly high rate of COVID-19 infections in the state.
Orleans County is considered part of the Finger Lakes Region as far as state COVID-19 tracking goes. The county surpassed the 15% positivity rate mark this week.
Compared to other counties across the state, three other counties downstate have positivity rates over 10%.
Orleans County Public Health director, Paul Pettit, stated that out of 231 tests performed on November 8, 35 tests came back positive.
To put this into perspective, nearly 4,700 hundred tests were administered on the same day in Erie County, with 366 tests returning with a positive result.
Orleans County has a total population of just over 40,000 people, while Erie County has nearly 920,000.
"Another thing in Orleans County is our vaccination rates are a little bit lower than other areas in the region. If you look across the Finger Lakes, Orleans is in the bottom with some of the other rural counties,” Public health director for Orleans and Genesee County, Paul Pettit said.
Pettit said the rise in cases has been concerning but not shocking.
According to the county, here is a look at COVID-19 positivity rates between November 5 to 8:
November 5: 30 out of the 326 tested positive (9.2%).
November 6: 34 out of 280 tested positive (12.1%).
November 7: 14 out of 127 tested positive (11%).
November 8: 35 out of 231 tested positive (15.1%).
"Something that we want to be aware of and monitor. We are hopeful with this time around, we are getting more folks vaccinated, which is very important. That's our number one tool,” he added.
Pettit said there are several factors to the increase in cases in the county, including people going back to indoor activities.
"One of the biggest things we've seen in some of the case investigations is that people have attended weddings. They have attended birthday parties and different types of events. These types of activities indoors lend themselves to a better environment for covid and other respiratory illnesses,” he said.
Households that have one positive end up being spread to everyone in the home, leading to larger cases in the county, according to Pettit.
"We've seen some less vigilance,” he said.
Complacency is highly discouraged, especially during the colder months, and Pettit said people in the county and surrounding areas should not only get a COVID-19 shot, but a flu shot as well.
“You can get the flu and you can get COVID. You're not protected if you can get the flu shot or vice versa,” He added. “We did a great job last year and I think these strategies that I've already talked about and helping to prevent COVID and helping prevent flu spread in our community where we saw very, very low spread throughout our region. We would like to see that again."