Broome Briefing: COVID cases increase, new hotspot named

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BINGHAMTON, NY – Broome County is reporting exponential growth in its COVID caseload as health officials brace for the impact of holiday gatherings.

County Executive Jason Garnar says much of the growth is from people in their 20’s and he says it’s not primarily Binghamton University students.

He speculates that a large number may be local residents returning to our area from college.

Garnar says he’s particularly worried about Thanksgiving meals as much of the spread is linked to smaller private gatherings.

He agrees with the CDC which says people should celebrate the holiday only with members of their own household.

“The more people that gather together, the more amount of COVID cases that we’re going to have, the more amount of people that we’re going to have in the hospital. We just had a phone call with our hospital systems, they are overworked,” says Garnar.

Garnar announced another hotspot in the county: United Methodist Homes Elizabeth Church Manor joins Bridgewater Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing on the hotspot list.

Nevertheless, congregant care settings, like nursing homes, only make up about 10 percent of the overall active cases.

Garnar also says the county’s mobile testing site has seen increased attendance over the past 3 days, exceeding 200 tests taken each day.

He says a decision has not yet been made on where to locate it next week.

Below is a statement from Elizabeth Church Manor:

The United Methodist Homes Elizabeth Church Campus, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has and continues to invest extraordinary efforts and resources in order to prevent COVID-19 from entering or spreading throughout our facilities.   The safety of our residents and staff are paramount. Our organization has spared no expense to ensure that our facilities and staff would be well prepared and equipped with resources on-hand to handle the fluidity of this ever-evolving public health crisis.    We have invested in robust and on-going education and training for staff, an ample and continuous supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing supplies, as well as an enhanced communication platform to keep all of our residents and families well informed.    

Up until November 3rd, we had been successful in keeping this virus out.    Despite diligent adherence to all infection control protocols and precautionary measures to prevent it, unfortunately, we experienced our very first cases this month.   We know we are not alone in this battle as several other facilities are battling COVID-19.  We do believe in the importance of community and standing strong as we all face this public health crisis together.  

We have been making every effort to contain and minimize spread. We receive ongoing support from our corporate offices, our Medical Director, and have a dedicated infection control team engaging in daily COVID response meetings.   As we respond to COVID, we continue to work very closely with the Department of Health following every infection control measure and guidance set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.   We have implemented action plans in accordance with infection control policies and in compliance with our regulatory agencies.   

We remain dedicated to fighting and winning this battle against COVID-19.  Of course, we were and are tremendously saddened that this virus has made its way in.  But, our staff are tireless, focused and dedicated to doing all they can to beat this.  We are also grateful to our residents and families for the tremendous support they have shown us during these unprecedented and challenging times.  

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