Updated: 4/23/20 – 10:56 A.M.
CORNING, NY (WSKG) – Steuben County has been hit especially hard by COVID-19. Thirty-one people have died since the first case was reported about a month ago. That includes four more announced on Wednesday.*
According to the county health department, 22 of the COVID-19 deaths are related to nursing homes.
“The virus got [into] our nursing homes,” said Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler. “You know, nursing homes have proven to be a hotbed for the virus. And unfortunately, with a vulnerable population that you have there, it is obviously much more concerning than if it were in just the general public.”
Wheeler said there is a concern about staff bringing the virus into facilities because residents have not had visitors since early March.
Approximately 700 nursing home residents and staff have been tested in the county so far. However, Wheeler said there are not enough available tests to better understand the scope of the virus. He is calling on the state and federal government to intercede.
On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement with President Trump to help secure more tests for COVID-19 from overseas manufacturers.
There are more than 200 positive cases of COVID-19 in Steuben County. The majority are concentrated in nursing homes like Hornell Gardens, the Fred & Harriett Taylor Health Center and the Elderwood at Hornell facility.
County-wide measures to combat the virus include social distancing and mandated quarantine for positive COVID-19 cases. Civil fines of up to $2,000 or criminal penalties of up to a year in jail are in place for violating measures enacted in the county, explained Wheeler.
The Steuben County Public Health director did not respond to a request for comment.
*Corrects stylistic error.