Cuomo: 'Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes in red.' | WHEC.com

Cuomo: 'Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes in red.'

Berkeley Brean
Created: December 18, 2020 06:32 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It was right there for everyone to see Friday. In Gov. Andrew Cuomo's briefing, out of all the regions in New York, only one had its COVID-19 numbers colored red. The Finger Lakes region. 

How did we go from first in the spring to the worst in the winter? 

"Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes in red," Gov. Cuomo said. 

In the slides that accompany the governor's briefings, our region was red in hospital cases and red in positive cases. 

Seven months ago, the script was flipped. 

Brean: "When we were coming out of the PAUSE in May and June, our region was the best, if not among the best and now, statistically, we're the worst. How do you explain that?"

Dr. Michael Mendoza: "So that is a question of intense debate. And the way I think about that now is because we had such a low rate for a majority of the summer a large proportion of our population remained susceptible. The natural immunity you derive from the infection was one we didn't have a high prevalence of because we had relatively few people in our community contract the infection naturally."

Combine that with the effects of colder weather and people staying inside and our numbers are up. 

My next question went back to the red numbers on the governor's map. Monroe County is still designated yellow and orange. 

Brean: "I'm wondering what is saving our region from going red? And is it something that you are telling the governor and his people?"

Bello: "That's a really good question. The metrics for how they designate the zones have changed over the last couple of weeks."

County Executive Adam Bello says going red isn't based on positive cases which can climb when you do more tests. It's based on the number of people in the hospital. 

Bello: "Right now our hospital systems are doing a good job. And they're staying on top of it and there's no immediate danger."

Red would effectively shut down the areas in red. Bello said something interesting. He said you can't shut down your way out of this problem. More than 70% of infections are caused by small house parties with no masking. 

There are COVID problems all over the place. But the situation is so concerning in Genesee County, the officials there decided they had to talk. 

One out of every 10 people tested in Genesee County Thursday tested positive. 

Their COVID numbers are higher than Monroe County. 

"It is very concerning," county manager Matt Landers said. "It was a warning to us."

Landers pleaded with people in his county. 

"Please follow the guidelines."

And the source is the same—small get-togethers. 

Matt Landers, County Manager: "We've had recent spikes of a birthday party of 15 people and all of a sudden we get five or six positives out of it."

Here are the COVID positive numbers over a seven-day average:

  • Genesee: 9.2
  • Orleans: 9.4 
  • Monroe: 8.8
  • Ontario: 6.9
  • Livingston: 5.8
  • Wayne: 6.7

I asked Landers how he thinks Genesee County was spared going to orange. 

His answer—they told the state about new testing clinics. 

Landers: "So because of the testing clinics which we felt with testing more of our asymptomatic individuals that would have a positive impact on our positivity rate."

In Genesee County, they're dealing with so many new cases, they're asking people to start quarantining if they feel symptoms and if they get tested, don't wait to get a call from a tracer. 

And they're asking people to stop getting together for dinners, parties and Bills games.


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