The Cayuga County Health Department has a message for parents: Keep your children at home when they're sick or exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms.
The public plea comes as COVID-19 cases surge in Cayuga County. There were 91 new cases in three days and 369 so far in September. With the spike in cases, hospitalizations are on the rise. As of Monday, there are 17 Cayuga County residents with COVID-related illnesses receiving treatment at Auburn, Crouse or Upstate University hospitals. The hospitalized patients range in age from two in their 30s to two in their 90s. Twelve of the 17 patients are age 60 and older.
In a news release, the health department expressed concern over the "extremely high number of COVID positive cases" since school began last week. Over a six-day period, there have been 233 new cases in Cayuga County.
Health officials repeated guidance it has given before — that COVID symptoms can be similar to seasonal allergies. If children are exhibiting allergy symptoms, they should stay home, get tested for COVID-19 and should not be sent to school until the result is known.
"It takes everyone to do their due diligence to keep our children in school where they learn best," the health department said. "If you know you've had exposure to a positive case, please monitor your symptoms and limit your interaction with others. Seek testing and health care, if appropriate."
The influx of COVID-19 cases is creating a backlog for the health department, which revealed Monday that it could take up to four or five days for the agency to contact people who have tested positive and need to be placed into isolation. Typically it takes the department no more than a couple of days for it to contact positive cases and enroll them in isolation.
The health department is prioritizing cases involving schoolchildren. It did not release how many recent COVID-19 cases are school-aged children.
For other cases, they will be contacted based on the date of their test. The health department asked positive cases to stay home and wait for tracing investigators to contact them. If you tested positive using an at-home test, keep and label the test with your name, date of the test, date of birth, and then call the health department at (315) 253-1560.
In other news:
• Two walk-in vaccination clinics will be held this week. The first is scheduled for 3 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Moravia Fire Department, 38 Keeler St. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be offered.
The health department will also hold a clinic from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Scipio Fire Department, 3550 Route 34, Scipio Center. Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines will be available.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.