December 6, 2021

Cortland County: Assume COVID is everywhere

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Cortland County will no longer announce potential public exposures to people with COVID-19, unless the exposure is a micro-cluster of people, county officials announced Tuesday.

“Pretty much if you go out, assume where you are going there are people that are positive with COVID,” County Administrator Rob Corpora said Tuesday during a special Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

The county has announced more than 80 potential public exposures, mostly at bars and restaurants, but also at churches, gyms, retail stores, sports facilities, a fraternal organization and a funeral home. More than 70 of those announcements have come since Sept. 1.

Contact tracing will still occur, said Legislator Cathy Bischoff (D-Cortland), the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee.

Bischoff said the decision was made by the clerk of the Legislature’s office, the chairman of the Legislature, the county administrator and the Health Department. The decision comes as both Madison and Onondaga counties recently announced they would stop listing places of exposure.

“Please people, take every precaution necessary,” Bischoff said.

The committee also voted, 5-0, to contract with Health Research Inc., a state agency, to use 15 rapid testing machines that the state left to the county after weekend-long testing from Oct. 23 to 25 at three Cortland County high schools. Legislators Ron Van Dee (D-Cortland) and Ann Homer (DCortland) were absent.

The committee also voted, 5-0, to allocate one of the 15 machines to the jail to test inmates.

“This machine does about four tests an hour,” Bischoff said, adding there’s no cost to the county to have or use the machines.

County Attorney Karen Howe also said there have been requests by agencies outside the county to use the machines.

“The next question is whether or not the protocol and lending criteria that the state gave us, meaning Health Research Inc., will allow us to do that and what protections we have to have in place from that third party to be able to allow us to do that,” Howe said.