Mass testing and more restrictions: Here’s what this week looked like with COVID-19

Mass testing and more restrictions: Here’s what this week looked like with COVID-19

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - In the last 7 days:

A mass testing operation successfully tested more than 1,000 Jefferson County residents for COVID-19. It was one of the largest testing initiatives in the north country, with officials looking to see the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings.

“The short term will be the shock and awe, if you will, about the numbers. But the long-term is that we hope it levels the spread or slows the spread, so eventually our numbers will be more of a spike versus a trajectory,” said Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray.

A few tri-county schools transitioned to remote learning. Gouverneur Central School District, Sandy Creek Central Schools, and South Lewis Central School District are learning remotely through the end of the holiday break. While others, like Ogdensburg Free Academy, looked to do so for a couple days.

Nursing home’s found more positive cases among workers, and one nursing home saw more residents die from COVID-19. The United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care facility in Ogdensburg reports 13 residents have passed away from the virus there.

“The stress of COVID just adds to an already stressful, very hard job,” said Stephen Knight, United Helpers CEO.

In Lewis County, the decision was made to suspend all in-person DMV services for two weeks due to a positive staff member and county leaders say the Thanksgiving holiday resulted in a spike in Lewis County cases. With Christmas right around the corner, those leaders urged people not to gather.

“Please, as you’re making your Christmas plans, recognize that this year’s different and recognize that the path that we’re headed on in Lewis County is not a good one,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.

But there is hope, the FDA authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine. The first doses are expected to arrive in New York on Monday. But one north country doctor gave people a dose of reality before actually getting a shot in the arm.

“We have to get the vaccine message across: that first shot isn’t your passport to business as usual,” said Dr. Michael Seidman, Chief of Medicine at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.

Experts explained that the vaccine comes in two shots. You get one, wait a month or so, then get the second and wait 2 weeks- a lengthy process to immunity.

First doses of the vaccine will go to health care workers and the most vulnerable. Everyone else may have to wait until March or April, meaning most people won’t be immune until summer.

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