BINGHAMTON, NY -Broome County is officially in the midst of its largest COVID-19 surge of the pandemic.

County Exec Jason Garnar held a somber weekly briefing today, announcing that there have been more than 3,200 new cases over the past week and 9 deaths over the last 8 days.

Hospitalizations are also over triple digits and with the added burden of staffing shortages, local hospitals are delaying elective surgeries.

Garnar says the one silver lining is that the omicron variant, which is fueling the steep increase, does not appear to be causing people to get as seriously ill.

“So far, hospitalizations have not gone up proportionately with new cases. But, even a small percentage of increase on a spread that is 3 times what we had at the same time last year could spell disaster for the local healthcare system,” says Garnar.

The dramatic rise in cases is also putting an incredible strain on the contact tracing efforts of the county health department.

Contact tracers are handling 200 to 300 cases per day.

, “We’re about 6 days behind at this point. We’re just being overwhelmed. But we’re still trying to do it. The best thing people can do right now for themselves is to get online and do the quick case investigation that can automatically give them the isolation order or release that they need,” says Interim Public Health Director Mary McFadden.

McFadden encourages everyone who tests positive using a rapid at-home test to use the online reporting link.

Staff at the county’s Office For Aging is also preparing to assist seniors with using the online portal.