Monroe County officials urge COVID-19 vaccinations as holiday, cold weather approaches

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Wednesday Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza are warning that the upcoming holidays could complicate COVID-19 in our region.

Right now the Finger Lakes Region is the highest in the state when it comes to that positivity rate.

Bell said there were 406 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday bringing the seven-day average to 340 new cases per day, which is an increase from last week.

Dr. Mendoza said this surge in cases could be tied to school testing and that’s one area where we can try to control the spread.

“A large number of the positives are coming from higher Ed.: Colleges and universities who are literally screening large portions of the population so these students are not sick but they are positive,” Mendoza said.

Dr. Mendoza said they are pretty much ready to go with test to stay, but said he thinks it will take another week or so before it becomes a reality.

He said first schools have to come up with a plan.

President of Monroe County Council of School Superintendents Bo Wright said they’re starting to prepare.

Wright: “I think there will have to be a grace period with school districts because we have to put some things in place logistically but we’re encouraged by what we’re hearing and if the time comes when the time comes we will be ready to implement those protocols?"

Raven: What are some of those early protocols that you guys are already thinking about?

Wright: “Well if we’re going to be testing internally I think it really comes down to manpower in our district so it will be a lot of testing so those are the things school districts are going to have to have in place before we can implement the protocols.”

Dr. Mendoza said it shouldn’t be a problem making sure all schools have the right supplies to test.

“We have done the calculations in looking at the number of people that we’re quarantining currently assuming people continue to get their vaccine, those individuals will not need to test to stay because they will be vaccinated our projections show that we have ample supply here in Monroe County,” Mendoza said.

Both Wright and Mendoza maintain school is still the safest place for children.

“It’s the right place for our kids to be and with the emergence of the vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds it’s going to only be all the more safer,” Mendoza said.

Bello emphasized vaccines are still the best weapon against the virus, and they’re not considering any mask mandates.

They encourage those 5 and up to get the shot and also those who are eligible for a booster to get one.