Officials in Wayne County declared a state of emergency Monday due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases it was experiencing.

Wayne County Administrator Rick House said that the declaration was made for the ability to issue specific orders expeditiously if necessary.

These can include directing hospitals to postpone elective surgical procedures.

“Wayne County has declared a ‘state of emergency” due to the high rate positivity rate,” House said. “Wayne County continues to see COVID rates higher than the last 12 months. As of December 6, 2021, there were 768 active cases and 94 deaths. Currently, 51 cases are hospitalized.”

House said the message to the public remained the same.

“We continue to encourage all residents to get vaccinated (boosters included), wear face masks while at indoor public venues, and constantly wash hands and use hand sanitizer,” House said.

Wayne County has a masking mandate in place for all county employees and visitors to county office buildings and facilities but said there are no plans for broader mandates.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and are working very closely with our public health officials,” House said.

The county reported 102 new COVID-19 cases last Wednesday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. A day later, the county had 115 new cases.

Among highest rates in New York

The seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in Wayne County is currently 13.4%, one of the highest rates in the state, according to data from the New York Department of Health.

Wayne County has also seen relatively fewer residents getting vaccinated than in surrounding counties. Just 64.7% of residents age 5 or more in Wayne County have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That number is 74.7% in neighboring Monroe County, and 72.6% in Ontario County, according to the Finger Lakes Regional Vaccine Hub.

As of Saturday, Wayne County has reported 10,744 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Story continues

In a Facebook post Monday, officials at Wayne County Public Health said that 27 residents had died from COVID-10 since the start of November.

“Wayne County Deaths from COVID-19 spiked over the last month, with 27 deaths occurring between November 1st and today,” the Facebook post said. “This represents a 40.8% increase over that timespan, and the 27 deaths represent 28.7% of our total deaths from COVID-19 since ‘Day One.'”

Officials explained that the rise in COVID-19 cases has led to area hospitals being at, or near, capacity.

“Getting vaccinated could mean the difference between a bed for someone with a critical non-COVID health issue, and a bed for someone who could have been kept out of it,” the WCPH Facebook post said.

Contact staff reporter Sean Lahman at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @seanlahman.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Wayne County NY declares state of emergency as COVID cases spike

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