As COVID positivity rates climb, north country leaders seek more vaccine

Jefferson County first responders are starting to get their first doses of the COVID vaccine.
Jefferson County first responders are starting to get their first doses of the COVID vaccine.(WWNY)
Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 5:53 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - While the north country has some of the state’s highest COVID positivity rates, area leaders are weighing in on the state of vaccinations. Some are happy with distribution, while others are hoping for more supply as soon as the state can get it.

New York state is distributing 250,000 dosages a week across the state.

The north country region sees 5,000 of those based on population.

Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray says the county received 1,575 doses this week, mostly going to people age 65 and older.

“So you’ll see in this case several pharmacies that are getting the allocation so that will cover the elderly population,” said Gray.

Gray says it may not seem like the county is receiving a high number of weekly doses, but when you factor in the 7 counties in the region, Jefferson County sees about 32 percent of the region’s total.

“In all fairness, when I say we are getting a third or 32 percent, we got two other counties that have state sites that are getting 500 a day in that state site,” he said.

One of those state sites is at SUNY Potsdam in St. Lawrence County.

St. Lawrence County Legislature Chairman Bill Sheridan says the vaccination effort is going well but it could be better.

“We can handle more, but we need more supply. That’s the problem. It’s a supply problem,” he said.

As supply continues to be an issue, positivity rates in the north country are on the rise.

Both Lewis and Jefferson counties are above the state’s 7-day positivity average, while St. Lawrence County falls just below it.

Sheridan says the county’s percentage may be lower, but the positive cases are still trending up and not down.

“There’s been 1,126 cases in the last two weeks, which is a 76 percent increase. So yeah, it is a concern,” he said.

Gray says the spike is something the county hasn’t seen before.

“We didn’t have this last spring, you know, the severity of this virus is nothing we have seen last spring; it is right now,” he said.

Both Sheridan and Gray say they want more doses coming to their counties with the hope of bringing positivity rates down.

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