St. Lawrence County declares COVID-19 state of emergency

St. Lawrence County declares COVID-19 state of emergency
Coronavirus (Source: MGN Online)

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - St. Lawrence County officials have declared a state of emergency due to dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases.

County Legislature Chair Joe Lightfoot tells 7 News he authorized the state of emergency early Monday morning at the request of Public Health.

Officials say the state of emergency was declared out of an abundance of caution to encourage residents to follow guidelines.

“It was decided that the state of emergency in St. Lawrence County should be reinstated to raise the awareness of people in St. Lawrence County to the resurgence of this COVID virus,” said Lightfoot.

County Public Health officials reported 40 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend and on Monday.

Public health held a meeting with school districts Monday afternoon to discuss the rise in cases in the county and receiving updates on COVID-19 plans, like intermittent closures and hybrid learning.

St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Tom Burns tells 7 News that some of the new positive cases are school-related.

Despite the rise in cases in the area, schools in St. Lawrence County will function as usual with schools continuing to make decisions on a district-by-district basis.

“Schools do these intermittent closures or shifts to remote learning and that’s currently working. So we’re going to continue that for the time being and I think we want to be vigilant moving forward because we have the holidays coming and people traveling around the state," said Burns.

But what does the state of emergency mean for county residents? Lightfoot says - not much.

“We don’t have the authority right now to close businesses down or anything like that. Certainly numbers in establishments, numbers in shopping, things like that, people have to be aware that the more people are together in one place, the likelihood that you could catch something goes up," he said.

Lightfoot says it is unclear at this time whether county buildings will remain open. The state of emergency is set for 30 days.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.