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Slate quarry cluster sickens 12 New Yorkers, probably in Washington County
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Slate quarry cluster sickens 12 New Yorkers, probably in Washington County

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A cluster of coronavirus cases just over the border at a slate quarry in Fair Haven, Vermont has gotten 12 New Yorkers sick, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

All 12 people likely live in Washington County, County Attorney Roger Wickes said, but the county has been working since Friday to confirm details. So far, no one in the county has been listed as officially testing positive due to the cluster.

But it’s just a matter of time, Wickes said.

“We are trying to track down all these people,” he said. “Some of them, apparently English is not their first language.”

Vermont Public Health tested at least some of them, but some gave their first names only for identification. It’s possible they are withholding details out of a fear of deportation, but Wickes said that’s not clear yet.

“I can just tell you language has been a barrier in some cases,” he said. “That’s why we’re working with Vermont to ID the people. That’s why it’s taken awhile.”

The system Vermont uses to track positive cases is not compatible with Washington County’s system, making matters more difficult. At this point, Washington County does not know how many workers were tested by Vermont Public Health, and how many of the positives live in Vermont.

“So there’s some challenges here,” Wickes said.

Essex County is also dealing with a possible cluster. A person tested positive on Sunday, and had attended the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Ticonderoga on June 21. That occurred within 48 hours of the person falling ill, which means the person was contagious during the Mass.

St. Mary’s had asked parishioners to wear masks and stay apart, while also limiting attendance. That “greatly reduced” exposure, Public Health officials said in a press release.

But, to stop any possible spread of the virus, Public Health put out a request Monday for all parishioners who attended the service to monitor themselves for symptoms through July 5. If they develop a fever, chills, cough, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, they should get tested.

To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test, individuals can call their health care provider or one of the following testing locations:

  • UVMHN – Elizabethtown Community Hospital: 518-873-3069
  • UVMHN – ECH – Ticonderoga Campus: 518-585-3927
  • Adirondack Health COVID Clinic: 518-897-2462

Cuomo said the tracing system to find anyone who had been infected is the key to keeping the virus under control.

At his press conference Monday, he said 13 people had tested positive after a young man flew up from Florida to attend a graduation ceremony in Westchester County. Tracers found many of those people after he tested positive.

At an aluminum plant in Montgomery County, 74 people have tested positive out of a workforce of 500 employees, and the factory has been closed for now while tracers track contacts.

“This is actually good news. It means the system worked. You find the positive, you trace it back,” he said. “That’s how you stop the spread.”

Also on Monday:

  • Warren County reported no new cases, with one person still ill and no one hospitalized.
  • Washington County also reported no new cases, with three people still ill and no one hospitalized.
  • Saratoga County reported eight cases since Friday, for a total of 549 confirmed cases. Seven people have recovered, for a total of 518 recoveries, leaving 15 still ill and one hospitalized.
  • The Capital Region posted a total of 12 cases in Sunday, a decrease, with the new cases almost entirely from Schenectady County. The region is still on track to reach Phase 4 on Wednesday. Statewide, 391 people tested positive Sunday, a substantial decrease.
  • The Glens Falls and Saratoga hospitals both reported no coronavirus patients.
  • Statewide, 853 people were hospitalized Sunday with coronavirus and eight people died.

“You remember one time we had 800 deaths in one day. Today we had eight,” Cuomo said.

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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