LOWVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - Lewis County is dealing with the fact that it’s dangerously close to being a state-designated micro-cluster Orange or Red Zone.
That would mean shutting down some schools and businesses.
"We would follow the state guidelines for the Red Zone and that would mean the businesses would have to slow down. That would mean schools would have to close and that would be a very unfortunate day for Lewis County, said County Manager Ryan Piche.
According to state metrics, Lewis County has a 6.1 percent positivity rate over the past 7 days. That number puts Lewis County on the state’s radar to be labeled a Red Zone - that’s the worst-case situation to the state.
To be a Red Zone, it also takes into account population. Lewis County’s sparse population means if it adds just 4 positive cases in a day, New York takes notice.
So far, the state is not labeling parts of Lewis County a Red Zone even though it has added more than 70 new cases in the past 10 days. At least 57 of those cases are linked to a Croghan area church.
“What I was told that since all of our cases, a large majority, are from one cluster and it’s not community spread, that it’s less concerning because we can really connect the dots A to B to C to D. The cases went up very quickly but it also means that the case load can be contained and should go down very quickly,” said Piche.
School officials are optimistic that the area will move past this.
“I think we are going to see these intermittent short closures that are sporadic, that are in certain areas and not others. It’s just the nature of how the disease spreads and how we have to deal with it,” said Thomas Burns, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.
“What matters now is testing. What matters now is community response and as long as we can contain this to one cluster and it’s not a community spread situation, then we should be well on our way to correcting this trend,” said Piche.
Piche says for Lewis County to avoid becoming a Red Zone, it’s going to take cooperation of all residents to stay safe, get tested, and stay away from large gatherings.
Meanwhile, the county continues its expanded testing. Friday it’ll be between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. On Sunday, testing will happen starting at 2 p.m. The site is across from the hospital in Lowville, off State Route 26. Look for signs.