County experiences high transmission of COVID-19 once again: Public Health Director speaks on the issue

Nicole Anjeski, Cortland County Public Health Director. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

Cortland County is back to a high transmission of COVID-19 in the area – and the Omicron’s sub-variant is the culprit – according to county public health director Nicole Anjeski.

“It’s spreading throughout (New York) State, and it’s highly transmissible,” she added.

After a winter season that saw the county go through an overwhelming amount of positive cases and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant, the county finally entered a low transmission of COVID-19 up until March 25. 

Once the year rolled into April, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) classified the county as an area of medium transmission. As the month was near the end, the CDC labeled the county as an area with high transmission once again.

“People are not using mitigations and there are no mandates right now,” Anjeski said, who noted people are going to gatherings and events more often. “Cases will go up as a result of it.”

March was a quiet month in terms of cases and hospitalizations. Anjeski noted for April, however, the county saw cases slightly over or under 200 each week.

The CDC’s levels of transmissions are based on the amount of cases and hospitalizations in a county or specific region. Between the second week and end of April, Cortland County had over 500 cases (584) and close to 40 hospitalizations (36). One promising note for the month of April was the amount of COVID-related deaths, which was three.

“A lot of people are walking around sick. They’re going to work, to school and to functions (sick),” Anjeski said. “We’re seeing more people going around others that are sick and not getting tested.”

Anjeski noted she foresees mask mandates and vaccine requirements “not coming back,” referencing Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to not implement mandates in the near future.

“It’s up to individual responsibility,” Anjeski said. “People have the tools right now, so wearing a mask, getting tested when ill and isolating when they know they’re positive (is important). People have a responsibility to do what they need to do to stop the spread.”

Anjeski also sees sporting events, commencements and other events going “on as normal,” but hopes wearing masks and getting tested is mixed into a “new normal.”

“As we get into the summer with people outside more, I’m hoping it will help bring down cases and slow the spread,” she added. “But, it’s hard to predict what will happen. We’ll see how these next few months go.”

Anjeski noted the eligibility for a second COVID-19 booster shot is for those 50 years-and-older, and those 12-and-older who are immunocompromised. The second booster shot is not available to the general public at this time, she added.