Old nursing home could become St. Lawrence County’s COVID-19 quarantine center

Updated: Apr. 6, 2020 at 4:50 PM EDT
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TOWN OF OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y. (WWNY) - St. Lawrence County has found a place to quarantine up to 40 people, if necessary.

The county’s COVID-19 quarantine center would open in a building at Routes 37 and 68 just outside Ogdensburg.

“Better to have a place and ready to go, as opposed to trying to get a place ready to go when you do have people,” said Joseph Lightfoot, St. Lawrence County Legislature chair.

Mainly, it would be for people who cannot quarantine at home. A lack of a separate bathroom or vulnerable family members can prevent people from doing that.

“These people...they are either sick or they have the potential for getting sick through no fault of their own. C'mon, we have to take care of these folks," said Lightfoot.

It could also be used for people refusing to quarantine at home. United Helpers operated an adult home in the building until two years ago. They quickly said 'yes' when the county asked.

“It's United Helpers. We're here to help. And if we can, we will,” said Steve Knight, United Helpers CEO.

The county would operate it. United Helpers can provide meals from its rehab and senior care center next door.

The building is some distance away from the others.

The number of COVID-19 cases and the number of people in quarantine continue to grow in St. Lawrence County. So the quarantine center may be needed sooner, rather that later.

As of Monday, 63 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in St. Lawrence County.

Both Knight and Lightfoot said the facility would be for people here – not from elsewhere.

“I haven't heard a thing about New York City or anything from the metropolitan area wanting to bring people up to the north country,” said Lightfoot.

County officials announced in late February they would be looking for a quarantine facility. At that time, colleges and local hotels were named as possibilities.

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