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COVID-19

COVID-19 cases in Cayuga County-area schools top 50 in one week

Auburn High School exterior

Auburn High School

As Cayuga County reported nearly 200 new COVID-19 cases since Oct. 1, a portion of those infected with the virus either attend or work in local school districts. 

The Citizen's review of the state's COVID-19 report card, which publishes case and testing data provided by schools, found the nine districts in the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES system had 52 new cases in the last seven days. 

A majority of the cases (29) were in Auburn, the largest local school district. Auburn had 29 new cases, including 27 students, in one week. Two employees also tested positive for COVID-19. 

Six of the new cases — five students and one employee — were reported on Thursday. 

Skaneateles had five new cases. Cato-Meridian and Jordan-Elbridge each had four. Port Byron, Union Springs and Weedsport had three apiece. 

Southern Cayuga had one new case, a teacher who tested positive for COVID-19. Moravia is the lone district with no new cases since Oct. 1. 

Health officials were concerned when school resumed that there would be more COVID-19 cases with students and teachers returning to in-person classes. Schools have taken precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. New York has a mask mandate for anyone, including students and teachers, inside school buildings. 

What's unknown is whether any of the COVID-19 cases are linked to school-related activities. 

Since the state's COVID-19 report card was revived by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sept. 13, Cayuga County-area schools have reported 190 cases. Most of the cases (106) are in Auburn, including 90 students, nine teachers and seven employees. 

Union Springs has 16 COVID-19 cases in four weeks — 14 students, one teacher, one employee. Port Byron has 15 (13 students and two staff). Two districts — Cato-Meridian and Weedsport — each reported 14. Cato-Meridian had 13 students and one teacher test positive, while there were 11 students, one teacher and two employees infected in Weedsport. 

Jordan-Elbridge had 13 cases, including nine students, one teacher and three employees. Skaneateles reported seven positive cases, all students. 

Moravia (three) and Southern Cayuga (two) have the lowest number of COVID-19 cases among local school districts. 

While most students in Jordan-Elbridge and Skaneateles may reside outside of Cayuga County, a bulk of the students in the other seven districts live in the county. 

Cayuga County remains in the midst of a wave with increased cases, hospitalizations and deaths. There were 747 new cases in August, followed by 1,079 in September. Through the first week of October, the county has 189 new cases, including 27 (17 unvaccinated and 10 vaccinated) on Thursday. 

Hospitalizations briefly decreased at the start of the week but rose again over the last few days. Twenty county residents are hospitalized with COVID-19, most of whom are age 60 or older. There are a handful of younger patients, including two people in their 30s and one in the 10-19 age group. Half of the patients are unvaccinated, according to the local health department. 

Cayuga County health officials are encouraging more residents, including school-aged children, to get vaccinated. There is an incentive: Any child age 12-17 who gets their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. The gift cards are part of the state's #VaxtoSchool campaign. 

The state Department of Health says 50% of Cayuga County children ages 12-15 have received at least one vaccine dose. 

In other news

• The next COVID-19 vaccination clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 16, at Fingerlakes Mall. Registration is required. Appointments can be made at cayugacounty.us/health

The three COVID-19 vaccines will be offered at the clinic. Pfizer will be available for children ages 12-17 who are accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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