Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said COVID-19 numbers are better than they have been since last year, but if we don't take caution, things could be shut back down.

Picente's comments came after news of a youth dance group seems to have caused one of the biggest COVID clusters since the pandemic began. He said that the group, which traveled to a dance competition over the weekend, didn't follow safety precautions and now, 300 families have to quarantine.

Picente warned that this is proof that this virus is not gone and people have to continue to be careful. "If you're going to be a coach, there's a responsibility when you're working with children. Go get a vaccine." He said the best way to reduce the virus spread and get back to normal is to get everyone (vaccinated).

Picente said 21 people have tested positive so far, 18 of whom are students. As a result, hundreds of people have been forced into quarantine. The outbreak forced the entire Whitesboro School District to revert to fully-remote learning on Tuesday. In-person classes are expected to resume on Wednesday.

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Picente warned that if people refuse to follow proper safety guidelines, events and extra curricular activities will be shut back down. He said "wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing" still need to be observed and that until we get above 80% of the population vaccinated, we're going to need to remain diligent. Currently, Picente says nearly 80,000 Oneida County residents have been vaccinated. "To the 80,000 who have been vaccinated, "talk to your fiends, talk to your relatives. The sooner we get to that 70-80 percent, it changes things," he said. "We can move forward in a better light if most people get vaccinated.  It's about the public health of this community."

With more people eligible, Picente has been able to secure more dosages. He thanked the state for responding to his request for more vaccines. "My goal has been that after we did some of the mass pods at MVCC, Griffiss, and JC Penny, that we would continue to go out into the community. Now we're moving out into the towns, like Clayville, Forestport, and other locations," he said.

The County Executive did send some criticism in the direction of Albany. He criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo for opening up businesses without requiring employees to get vaccinated. "If you want people to come into your establishment, you have to show you've been vaccinated." to make customers feel safe.

Here are the Oneida County COVID-19 case numbers as of midnight on April 19:

  • 51 new positive cases, 21,181 total.
  • 452 active positive cases.
  • No new COVID-19-related deaths, 414 total.
  • 19 patients are hospitalized in Oneida County. 17 at MVHS. 2 at Rome Heath.  5 are nursing home residents.
  • 4 residents are hospitalized out of county.
  • 20,315 positive cases have been resolved.
  • 703,975 total negative results.
  • 725,156 total tests.
  • 452 in mandatory isolation.
  • 505 in mandatory quarantine.

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