Breakthrough cases. Children testing positive. A "pandemic of the unvaccinated."
Cayuga County is in the midst of its second major COVID-19 wave. The first was in December 2020 and January when there were more than 4,000 confirmed cases and 74 deaths.
The latest surge began in July with a noticeable uptick in cases near the end of the month. It continued into August. After reporting 72 new cases in July, the Cayuga County Health Department said there were 747 in August — a tenfold increase in one month.
The key numbers from August:
• 503: The number of unvaccinated cases that month. Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 67.3% of all cases in August.
• 32.7%: The percentage of "breakthrough" cases, or vaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19 in August. There were 244 breakthrough cases.
• 505: Two-thirds of the cases were in the 18-64 age group, a broad group of adults who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Two-thirds of the cases in this age group were unvaccinated, according to the health department.
• 148: The number of children under age 18 who tested positive for COVID-19 in August. Most of the children (99) were under age 12 and ineligible for the vaccine. Of the 49 kids who were age 12 or older, 43 were unvaccinated. There were six breakthrough cases.
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• 94: The number of cases among residents ages 65 and older, the age group with the highest vaccination rate in Cayuga County. More than 71% of these cases were vaccinated. The county reported six deaths in August — an indication that the availability of the vaccine helped prevent a repeat of what happened over the winter when dozens of residents, all of whom were age 60 or older, died after contracting COVID-19.
Cayuga County's COVID wave continued into September with more cases and hospitalizations. The health department counted 1,077 confirmed cases, the most in a month since January. Hospitalizations reached a high of 25 on Sept. 14. After six deaths in August, there were seven more in September. The decedents included the county's youngest resident to die of COVID-19, a woman in her 30s.
The key numbers from September:
• 728: Of the 1,077 cases, 728 were unvaccinated. As was the case in August, two-thirds of new cases in September were not vaccinated.
• 349: The number of breakthrough cases — about one-third of all new cases. It was roughly the same percentage as the county reported in August.
• 262: Children under age 18 accounted for nearly one-quarter of new cases in September, the first month of the school year. A bulk of the cases (161) were children who are too young to be vaccinated, while 101 were eligible for the vaccine. Among the older children, 86 were unvaccinated at the time of their positive test. There were 15 breakthrough cases.
• 703: Nearly two-thirds of all cases were in the 18-64 age group. More than 63% of the cases were unvaccinated (443). There were 260 breakthrough cases in this age group.
• 112: The oldest age group (65 and older) had the lowest number of new cases. Similar to August, most of the new cases (74 of 112) were vaccinated. But it once again showed the effectiveness of the vaccine that there was a low number of fatalities (seven) and two were under age 60.
Local health officials hope the worst of the wave is over, but cases are still on the rise in October. Through the first 12 days of the month, the county has 310 new cases. It is on pace for 800 cases this month, which would be the fourth-highest total of the pandemic.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.