GENESEE COUNTY — As the holiday season approaches, coronavirus cases continue to rise across the state and within Genesee County.
As of press time, the Genesee County Health Department has recorded 6,477 positive cases of COVID-19 and 313 deaths linked to the virus. Within the past three weeks, the county’s total COVID- 19 case count has risen from 4,868 on Oct. 16 to over 6,000 by Nov. 3, while the COVID-19 positivity rate has jumped from 6.5 percent to 7.4 percent.
The county’s current fatality rate stands at 4.8 percent.
Danielle Lederer, an epidemiologist with the Genesee County Health Department, said that the steady rise in positive COVID-19 cases stems from social gatherings and a lack of consistent mask wearing.
“We’re noticing that there has been a sharp increase of cases linked to large and small social gatherings,” she said. “In many cases, people attending these gatherings are dropping their guard and not wearing masks properly or not wearing them at all.”
Lederer said that based on the health department’s data, the reopening of schools has not contributed significantly to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Genesee County.
“Schools are doing a great job of following the guidelines and keeping students and staff safe,” she said. “Districts are able to enforce stricter mitigation measures, mask wearing and social distancing, and they can identify possible COVID cases quickly.”
Due to a recent modification with its data-collecting, the county now has a more accurate count of COVID-19 cases per community. According to the most recent health department data, this has led to more recorded COVID- 19 cases in townships across the county and, in some instances, fewer cases in cities (see the sidebar).
For example, the health department previously reported that the City of Flushing had 218 cases as of Oct. 21, while Flushing Township had 31 cases. Following its data-collecting upgrade, the county is now reporting that Flushing has 105 COVID-19 cases, and that Flushing Township now has 152 cases.
According to Lederer, the new data shows that COVID-19 is no longer contained to a few hot spots in the county and that it is growing more pervasive in the townships and areas outside of cities.
Lederer is also projecting that the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate will soon exceed 10 percent, which she said is indicative of widespread community transmission. She said that more residents need to continue to wear masks and socially distance to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
With coronavirus cases on the rise, the Genesee County Health Department is warning residents to avoid attending large holiday gatherings.
“As we approach the holidays, more people are moving indoors,” Lederer said. “Indoor gatherings are known to increase of risk of COVID-19 transmission. If you have a holiday get-together, you should consider only having your immediate family attend. Right now is a good time for people to tighten their social bubbles, avoid large gatherings and stay at home as much as possible.”
To see more countywide data, visit the Genesee County Health Department’s COVID-19 update page at gchd.us/coronavirus.