Updated: December 01, 2021 01:13 PM
Created: November 30, 2021 12:18 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A State of Emergency declared for Monroe County took effect Wednesday. It's due to rising COVID hospitalizations and a declining availability of ICU beds, County Executive Adam Bello announced Tuesday.
With the declaration, Bello said the county is implementing a "phased" restriction approach, starting on phase one. This includes mask requirements in all county buildings for workers and visitors, county workers who can will also go remote. Additionally, the county has secured 750,000 rapid testing kits that are available for free to county residents.
Bello did encourage businesses and local governments to adopt the same policies but said there will be no broad county-wide mandates.
This morning I declared a state of emergency in Monroe County due to the rapid increase in COVID hospitalizations which is affecting our health systems’ ability to treat non-COVID related acute care and emergency cases. pic.twitter.com/FM6JFqFoRP— Adam J. Bello (@CountyExecBello) November 30, 2021
As far as future restrictive phases go, Bello said the next step may include vaccine or test requirements for certain gatherings, and then a third phase with even tighter restrictions, though he did not get into specifics.
Nearby, Erie County implemented a similar phased restriction approach last week, this includes a mask mandate.
Per Bello, the county saw a rise in COVID hospitalizations from 265 to 314 in the last week. The Finger Lakes Region saw a hop from 381 to 443 people hospitalized.
Tuesday's briefing included University of Rochester Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Apostolakos and Rochester Regional Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Mayo. Apostolakos said URMC could soon be required to delay elective surgeries due to the lack of capacity, though both he and Mayo said any decision will be dependent upon what the state says on Friday when its disaster declaration kicks in.
As part of the state's declaration, Governor Hochul will be allowed to temporarily suspend or modify any statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation. This includes restrictions on elective, non-emergency surgeries. Per Bello, examples are planned surgeries like kidney stone removal or hip surgery.
Additionally, Hochul called upon the state's National Guard to help out at staff-shortened nursing homes. Bello told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke the county has spoken to Hochul's office and hopes to make an announcement soon on how the guard might help out locally.
Bello and the health leaders all stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, as they said 65% of COVID patients in the hospital and 80% in the ICU are not vaccinated.
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