Otsego County Health Department Responds to Oneonta Outbreak

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OTSEGO COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR-TV) — The outbreak at SUNY Oneonta last month produced more positive cases of COVID-19 than Otsego County reported during the entire pandemic. Currently the college has 676 positive cases and 8 students in quarantine on campus. We asked why the number of cases reported from the health department and the college haven’t matched up?

“. . . Because the cases were coming in so fast the first week and half we just had time to begin to really look at the data and clean it up a bit. We’re finding some duplicated and really trying to determine who’s a student, who’s related to the outbreak, but not a student and who is not related at all to any of the outbreaks and are just community members.” – Heidi Bond,BSN, CPH Public Health Director, Otsego County Dept of Health

With hundreds of positive cases, how has no student been hospitalized?

“I think the age bracket of the students who are getting this, it’s the 18 to 24 year old, relatively healthy population and young. It goes to show we’ve kind of been saying all along that we know this affects the elderly and the people with chronic illnesses much worse than it does the younger population.” – Heidi Bond,BSN, CPH Public Health Director, Otsego County Dept of Health

Bond says they didn’t know SUNY Oneonta wasn’t testing students before returning for the fall semester.

“Statewide I think the colleges didn’t have to get local departments approval . . . It was approved by the state but we’ve definitely been in contact and remain in contact now many times a day.” – Heidi Bond,BSN, CPH Public Health Director, Otsego County Dept of Health

Bond says they also ZOOM with Otsego County’s superintendents twice a week for updates and information on positive cases in schools. Should a student test positive, the health department will work closely with the school for contact tracing.

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