Legislature hears virus updates
YATES COUNTY--The Yates County Legislature held its monthly meeting Monday, July 13 where the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was again the topic of many discussions by the lawmakers. Yates County has had 49 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 with four currently in isolation. The county is also looking into ordering more hand sanitizer and is handing out masks to local restaurants.
"About 25 percent of (the roughly 4500 tests conducted) are people from the general public," said Deborah Minor, director of public health for both Yates County and Schuyler County. "I estimate 75 percent are folks that need repeat testing (due to their jobs)."
Minor also detailed antibody testing, saying thus far 200 have had negative antibody tests and six positives.
"This testing is not as widely available as testing (for the actual COVID-19 virus)," Minor said.
Antibody testing does not identify if a person has a current positive case of COVID-19, instead, it identifies people who have achieved the antibodies showing that they have had it. Not having antibodies does not mean that a person has not had the virus.
Minor added she has been intentionally slow at filling out certain demographic information for positive cases due to the fact communities within Yates are small and tight-knit, and people may be able to identify who has tested positive as a result.
"It's a confidentiality thing," Minor said.
Brian Winslow, director of emergency management, also gave a brief report where he said the county is looking into ordering more hand sanitizer for the fall and winter seasons should a resurgence of the virus occur.
"And our first responders have all the equipment they have been asking for," Winslow said.
It was announced during the meeting the county expects a roughly 35 percent decrease in state funding for the non-profit Rural Health Network, an organization that provides health coverage to people who live in rural communities. Legislators agreed that the reduction in funding could affect the health of some residents of Yates.
Also during board member updates, Carlie Chilson gave a brief update on work the county is doing in preparation for the legalization of marijuana in New York state.
"We have discussed the desire to set up standards that kind of control where marijuana shops could be set up so they are not in the pathway of kids and not accessible to them," Chilson said.
The legislature also passed a resolution honoring former newspaper editor Gwen Chamberlain, and in the process also admonished the owner of the paper, Gannett Co., Inc., a media company that owns USA Today along with other newspapers across the country, for eliminating the position of editor at the paper in Penn Yan.
The meeting, which was live, was the first in-person meeting held by the legislature since March. However, the meeting was still broadcast over Zoom, allowing members of the public who may have been concerned about attending the meeting in person to still see it live and participate if they wanted.