Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort Wednesday confirmed “at least 10 people” associated with the River Ridge Living Center in Amsterdam tested positive for COVID-19.
Ossenfort said the positive cases include both staff and patients at the facility.
“Which is not surprising, given the way cases have been going up for the last week,” he said. “Right now we definitely have a significant number of cases.”
Officials at the River Ridge Living Center did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.
Ossenfort said on Tuesday Montgomery County Public Health officials recorded 22 Montgomery County residents testing positive for COVID-19.
The New York State Department of Health shows 18 new positive cases among Montgomery County residents for Wednesday.
“Right now, we have over 50 positive cases that we’re monitoring, and that is more than at any moment during the spring,” Ossenfort said. “I’m seeing a steep climb. This rapid increase in the number of cases we’ve seen in just the last week and a half, we went from seven in a week to 15 in a week to 28, which is four times the amount we’ve seen per week over the past couple of months.”
On Monday, Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko published her weekly COVID-19 update for the county, which showed the county has had a total of eight known fatalities from the virus, a recent uptick of two additional deaths since Nov. 9.
Ossenfort said he attends meetings of the leaders of the counties in the Mohawk Valley Region of New York state three times per week to evaluate COVID-19 data. He said he now believes it is only a matter of time before Montgomery County is required by the state to institute additional restrictions due to the rapid spike in COVID-19 positive cases.
“Throughout the Mohawk Valley you’re seeing testing-positive percentage increase, you’re seeing hospitalizations increase,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s a matter of time before we’re designated yellow; how exactly that will work I don’t know. It will come from the state exactly what the geographic area will be. I’ve been told it will not be region-wide, it could just be Montgomery County, a specific area, a micro-cluster, but the key point for me it’s important to tell the people in the community where we’re at and what’s happening.”
According to a system of escalating COVID-19 restrictions based on testing metrics released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 6, a designation of “Yellow Zone” would mean these restrictions:
Yellow Zone — Precautionary Zone
• Houses of Worship: 50 percent capacity
• Mass Gatherings: 25 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
• Businesses: Open
• Dining: Indoor and outdoor dining, 4 person maximum per table
• Schools: Open with mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers/staff for in-person settings.
On Tuesday in Fulton County, Administrative Officer Jon Stead issued a news release stating the county Department of Motor Vehicles will be closed to the public until Dec. 1 due to a COVID-19 positive exposure.
“The DMV and County Clerk Records Room were operating by appointment only. All in-person appointments have been canceled until further notice to ensure safety to the public,” Stead wrote.
On Wednesday, Montgomery County Clerk Brittany Kolbe posted a reminder to social media accounts stating: “Montgomery County DMV is accepting MONTGOMERY COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY for in-person appointments due to COVID-19. This has been our policy since June. No exceptions. We will accept dropbox transactions out of county.”
Ossenfort said Wednesday he gathered county department heads and told them to prepare plans to convert county services to essential personnel only in anticipation of more state restrictions prompted by the spread of the virus.