Blankenbush pushes for more COVID data in daily reporting

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 4:03 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Jefferson county’s 7-day average COVID-19 positivity rate is at 10 percent, as of this week. As cases rise across the region, one thing that’s unknown is how many people getting sick, have gotten the vaccine.

Assemblymen Ken Blankenbush, who represents Lewis, and parts of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Onedia counties, says that should change.

“If we are reporting, say, 80 new cases of COVID across the north country, how many of those cases, how many of those people are not vaccinated compared to those who are vaccinated?” Blankenbush said.

The state assemblyman feels it’s information people would want to know and Blankenbush feels it may help those who haven’t gotten the shot make a decision.

“I think those statistics may sway it one way or the other,” Blankenbush said. “Let the statistics fall, let the numbers fall the way they are.”

Jefferson County legislature chair Scott Gray says it’s not that simple.

“I mean, it’s easier said than done,” Gray said. “It’s not even possible, to be honest with you.”

Why is it impossible? Gray says the the county’s COVID management system doesn’t communicate with the state’s vaccine system, making it hard to validate the vaccination status of every person who tests positive.

Another factor that comes into play is Fort Drum, responsible for providing shots to about half of the county’s eligible population.

“A great deal of them are in the federal system and we don’t have access to that,” Gray said.

Gray says county officials will continue to report what they can. In recent months, the county has been sending out a monthly COVID report, which includes the vaccination status of patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

In Saint Lawrence County, legislature chair Bill Sheridan says those who test positive for COVID are not asked to disclose their vaccine status.

“So people do not have to answer if they have not been vaccinated when our public health person contacts those people,” Sheridan said.

But Blankenbush says any new information that the public can learn is key.

“I think it’s important the general public knows whether the shots are working or not,” Blankenbush said.

We also reached out to Lewis County manager Ryan Piche, who had no comment Friday.

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