BINGHAMTON, NY – Broome County residents are once again being asked to stay at home as a COVID cluster that originated on Binghamton’s Westside spreads like wildfire.
County Executive Jason Garnar issued a “stay-at-home” request for seven days after the county again saw its largest single day increase in active cases today.
Fifty-four positive results were reported to the Broome County Health Department in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of active cases to 243, the high water mark of the pandemic.
It also represents a nearly four-fold increase over a week ago when the number stood at 63.
Garnar says the time to be alarmed is now.
“Two months basically before Friday of one day we get 4 cases, one day we get 5 cases. Now, all of a sudden, we’re getting 30, 40, 50 cases. Absolutely concerning,” he said.
For the next week, Garnar encourages residents to opt for takeout rather than dining in at local restaurants.
He says small private gatherings should be postponed and anyone who can revert to working or socializing virtually should do so.
Health Department Director Rebecca Kaufman says the cluster in zip code 13905 identified earlier this week can quickly spread to other parts of the county.
“There are a few people positive on the Westside of Binghamton. Then their families became positive, their friends. Their family and friends may not all live on the Westside of Binghamton but have a soccer game, or work at a school, or work at a manufacturing plant. And from there, it just literally spreads like a spider web,” she says.
Kaufman says the county has ramped up its number of contact tracing personnel from 25 last week to 70 now by pulling in employees from other departments.
Another 20 went through the training today.
Eleven-hundred people are currently in health department mandated quarantine.
Kaufman says the new cases are almost entirely through community spread with the average age rising to 39.
Another concerning development according to Kaufman is that for the first time during the pandemic, people who test positive are not being fully cooperative with contact tracers as to whom they’ve been in contact with.
Garnar says that if the county doesn’t get a handle on the situation quickly, it could lead to another lockdown of businesses and schools.