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Broome County officials warn of rising COVID-19 cases, encourage limited holiday gatherings

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Broome County has had nearly 950 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, as infections continue to rise across the state. There are currently 96 hospitalizations, and five people have died in the past six days.

During this week’s COVID-19 update, County Executive Jason Garnar said hospitals have not been forced to suspend elective surgeries yet. But he added that especially with the holidays coming up, cases will likely increase.

“And as cases go up, hospitalizations are likely to go up. And as I’ve said time and time again, that is our biggest concern. Today’s hospitalization report is probably one of the highest we’ve ever received,” Garnar said.

Garnar added that because of the surge in cases, the county has been struggling to keep up with contact tracing. Residents who test positive for COVID-19 may end up waiting for several days before they hear from contact tracers.

In the meantime, if you test positive, Garnar said it is important to stay home and isolate. Residents should make a list of any close contacts, meaning a person within six feet for more than 15 minutes. Parents with a child who tests positive should let their school know immediately.

Given the spike in cases, county officials are also advising residents to make sure they stay safe during holiday gatherings.

“It’s encouraged that if you’re going to celebrate with people outside of your household, that you get tested beforehand. If you are sick, please stay home,” said Broome Public Health Director Mary McFadden.

McFadden added that residents should also try to keep gatherings small, wash their hands frequently, and practice social distancing when possible.

Those looking to get tested before the holidays can make appointments at local pharmacies, the state-run mass testing site, or the Broome County health department. The health department has a good supply of testing kits and is offering hundreds of rapid test appointments each day.