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Where to get help, questions answered

MOHAWK VALLEY –As there have been more and more confirmed COVID-19 cases across New York state, with two confirmed cases in Montgomery County and one confirmed case in Fulton County, there has been confusion as to what to do with concerns of the virus and where to call to have those concerns addressed.

In Montgomery County, the public health department is asking those with concerns of symptoms or general questions to call the Montgomery County Public Health Department, and in Fulton County those with concerns of symptoms should call their primary care doctor, and with general questions, they should call a state department of health hotline.

Fulton County Public Health Director Laurel Headwell could not be reached before press time. However, according to the Fulton County Public Health Department Facebook page, if anyone is experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they should call their primary care provider to have their symptoms reviewed. If anyone has general questions, they are asked to call the New York State Department of Health hotline at (888)-364-3065. Fulton County residents can also stay updated at the Fulton County Public Health website at www.fultoncountyny.gov/covid-19.

“The status with COVID-19 is ever changing. If someone feels they meet the criteria to be tested, we are encouraging people to call the local health department of the county in which they reside,” said Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko.

She said staff at the Montgomery County Public Health Department are able to spend time with people calling the department and have been able to help answer questions and “put some myths to rest.”

Boerenko said there is a shortage of COVID-19 tests in Montgomery County because people who did not meet the criteria for testing were being tested, and those who do meet the criteria no longer have the tests available to them.

“As public health director, I was clear with residents and guidance set forth that we needed to reserve tests for those that met the medical criteria or the exposure criteria for being tested,” Boerenko said. “If someone was exposed to a positive patient or someone that had traveled, [they] should have been the patients getting a test.”

There are two confirmed cases in Montgomery County, and a number of tests still pending.

When deciding who needs to be quarantined, the health department makes that determination based on the criteria of contact, exposure and symptoms. Boerenko said everyone who has been tested are being tracked and are staying on the mandatory 14-day home quarantine.

“We do not have people breaking the quarantine, and yes we are checking on the people being quarantined at least one time a day and some are getting calls two times a day. People are actually nervous to be in public after being tested as they do not know their test results,” Boerenko said.

She said they are monitoring cases in all areas of the county.

A “myth” Boerenko would like to put to rest is that public health is in fact openly communicating. She said they are giving daily press updates by posting on some form of social media, on the radio, the have Facebook live videos, met with every school superintendent in the county issuing letters to each district, they have been in contact with nursing homes, have been in contact with officials in municipalities in the county and have been working with county judges and the Amsterdam City Court judge.

“My staff has fielded over 400 calls in the past four days and that does not include what we have taken on Saturday and Sunday as of this past weekend,” Boerenko said.

She recommends residents check sources such as the state Department of Health, the CDC and county sponsored Facebook pages for information.

“Data and statistics are changing daily, hour-to-hour, minute-by-minute,” Boerenko said. “We are working around the clock to keep up to date with information. We encourage people to call the local health department in your county for factual information.”

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