Swinehart: Shortage of testing supplies, PPE increase risk level in Seneca County

The Seneca County Health Department says it’s continuing to prepare and respond to the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, even as impacts haven’t yet been felt locally.

Officials say health department staff is investigating and identifying close contacts of confirmed cases and are assessing any risk for exposure risks in the community.

According to Director Vickie Swinehart the latest numbers for Seneca County include:

  • 39 individuals are quarantined and being monitored;
  • 1 individual is in mandatory isolation at a Seneca County residence and is being monitored. This individual tested positive but their primary residence is located outside of Seneca County;
  • There are 0 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Seneca County; and
  • Seneca has received 63 test results of Seneca County residents. All have been negative.

“Locally testing has been prioritized and is given to those who are at the greatest risk for exposure to the disease,” Swinehart said. “Our local healthcare providers are following the NYSDOH’s guidelines for COVID-19 Testing.”

The criteria for testing are as follows:

  • Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever or cough and shortness of breath) AND have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 14 days;
  • Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 AND have tested negative for other respiratory illnesses AND have traveled to a foreign country with existing cases or domestically traveled to places identified as having ongoing or widespread community transmission in the past 14 days;
  • Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization AND have tested negative for other respiratory illnesses AND have traveled to a foreign or domestic location with ongoing or widespread community transmission within the past 14 days;
  • Individuals who have a fever AND a severe lower acute respiratory illness, such as pneumonia, requiring hospitalization AND has tested negative for flu, RSV, legionella, etc.;
  • Individuals connected with a group of cases who have fever AND symptoms of lower respiratory illness AND have tested negative for other respiratory illnesses

“Individuals who are experiencing mild symptoms associated with COVID-19 should treat their symptoms at home with over the counter medications and should contact their healthcare providers if their symptoms worsen,” Swinehart added. “Locally there is a shortage of testing supplies and crucial PPE, which is needed by healthcare providers who are testing and treating COVID-19 patients. The true burden of disease in Seneca County is unknown due to the limited number of tests being performed.”

Swinehart says Seneca County residents should act as if there is COVID-19 in the local communities and should continue social distancing efforts. “I fully anticipate there will be positive cases in Seneca County, but if we work together and continue our social distancing efforts we can slow the spread of this virus in our communities and protect those most at risk,” she added.

For the latest updates visit www.co.seneca.ny.us email us at COVID19@co.seneca.ny.us or call (315) 539-1920. For additional COVID-19 resources call NYSDOH COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.

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