OSWEGO, NY – The spread of COVID-19 in Oswego County has increased significantly over the past week, and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has elevated the transmission rate from “substantial” to “high,” Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director, said today.
Following the CDC guidance, Huang said the County Health Department “highly recommends” that vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks at their workplace and in all indoor public spaces in Oswego County. He recommends that businesses and other organizations encourage their employees and customers to wear masks indoors.
“Oswego County has seen the COVID-19 virus spread quickly over the past week,” said Huang. “We attribute the surge to the spread of the Delta variant. The variant is more infectious than other strains of the virus that circulated previously. As a result, the CDC has upgraded the County’s community transmission risk level from ‘substantial’ to ‘high.’”
Huang said people who haven’t received a COVID vaccine are much more susceptible to the Delta variant and are much more likely to become seriously ill and require hospitalization than those who have been vaccinated.
In Oswego County, vaccination rates in the 19 years and younger population are between 7.5% and 80%, and the rates of age 65 and older are between 62.1% and 100%, varying by zip code.
“We are now seeing a much greater increase in the percentage of younger people infected with the virus in Oswego County, from 2.33% in July 2020, to 19.86% in March 2021,” said Huang. “Now that people age 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, the percentage of those vaccinated who become infected in this group is reduced to 15.73%. In the age 65 and older age group, we have seen the percentage decrease by more than half, from 18.6% in July 2020 to 6.38% in March 2021. The percentage increased two points in July 2021 mostly due to the Delta variant.”
Although some vaccinated people have become infected with the Delta variant, the vaccine is effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
“It’s important to be aware that, of the handful of fully-vaccinated patients who have been hospitalized, all had underlying health conditions,” said Huang. “No fully-vaccinated person has died from COVID-19 infection so far. To quickly get the virus under control, we ask all eligible individuals to get vaccinated,” he said.
COVID-19 vaccines are now available to everyone age 12 and older. Vaccines are widely available through clinics offered by the County Health Department, at area pharmacies, and through community health care providers.
People age 60 and older who need assistance scheduling a COVID shot may call the Oswego County Office for the Aging, phone 315-349-3484.
The Pfizer vaccine will be offered to anyone age 12 and older Wednesday, Aug. 18, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Center, 70 Bunner St., Oswego. The vaccine is the first in a two-dose serious. The appointment for the second dose will be Wednesday, Sept. 8 at the same location. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are welcome. To register, go to https://health.oswegocounty.com/ and click on the link for “Local Information About the COVID-19 Vaccination.”
Free transportation to vaccine clinics is available to Oswego County residents through a partnership between Oswego County and Oswego County Opportunities, Inc. The service is available Monday through Saturday between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Call 315-598-1514 to schedule a ride in advance.
For more information, go to the Oswego County Health Department’s COVID-19 page at health.oswegocounty.com/covid-19 or call its COVID-19 hotline at 315-349-3330. Phone lines are open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
More information about COVID-19 vaccines is also available at https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.