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Nine cases in Fulton Co.

JOHNSTOWN — As positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Fulton County, local representatives are asking residents to continue to social distance and to stay home.

“The virus is here,” said Fulton County Public Health Director Laurel Headwell.

As of this morning the total number of positive COVID-19 cases is at nine and a number of people are in quarantine. However, those numbers are expected to change because the number of people in quarantine is changing based on contact.

Headwell said there could be 100 people in quarantine one day and 200 the next. Numbers are changing by the hour, she said.

As of Friday, Headwell said there are two people in the hospital, but those hospitalizations change on a day-to-day basis. Another issue the health department is facing is that people with addresses in Fulton County might have gotten tested in a different hospital and may be in a different hospital other than Nathan Littauer.

“The numbers change in the moment,” Headwell said. She said they change by the hour.

Out of the nine who have tested positive, one has already recovered. That person who has recovered is the first case of the county who tested positive on March 19. However, recovery and symptoms vary from person-to-person.

Every person who tests positive will have a different response. Headwell said some may get seriously ill and others may just experience mild symptoms.

“It’s not a cookie cutter virus,” Headwell said.

She said there are also still other illnesses spreading such as the flu, strep throat, bronchitis and soon it will be tick season.

The COVID-19 virus is also now community spread and not just direct or physical contact with someone who was infected.

“The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” Headwell said. “It is also possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.”

Since it is possible for the virus to spread indirectly, she suggests everyone avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes, and wash surfaces and wash hands.

“The best message is to let people know they have to take precautions and act like the virus is here, because it is here,” Headwell said. “County residents need to stay home.”

Headwell said as a community everyone has not done their jobs in staying home, continuing to congregate in other areas or leaving their homes for non-essential items. In addition, some are not practicing social distancing as they should be.

The county is doing their part in trying to keep its residents safe such as enacting the State of Emergency which runs for 30 days, asking non-essential employees to work from home, restaurants have closed in-dining eating and are doing delivery, takeout or curbside only, however, residents need to start doing their part in staying home. Headwell said residents should be practicing non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing and need to stay home rather than going to the grocery store.

“Our residents need to step up and flatten the curve by staying home. Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands. Stay home when you are sick. Clean frequently touched surfaces. Things that we take for granted and think are common sense but some individuals do not practice all the time,” Headwell said.

“If public health were to call and ask all of the places that you have been would you be proud of the answer you gave them?” Headwell added.

To also keep Fulton County residents safe, Jon Stead, clerk of the Board of Supervisors, said anyone who is from out of the area, or coming back into the county should be self isolating.

Stead said the county has been following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s guidelines, as the virus continues to spread, decisions regarding businesses re-opening and schools reopening are being made in two week intervals. Come April 15, the county will have a better idea how much longer businesses will need to continue to close. However it is too soon to tell if the State of Emergency will need to be extended.

As for testing and respirators available, Headwell said she is unsure of how many tests and respirators there are and that the hospital is handling testing. In a press release on Friday, Headwell said there is a shortage of tests. The number of tests available differs every day.

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