The number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in Fulton County has more than doubled over the last 10 days to a total of 136.
As of Friday, Fulton County had 101 COVID-19 positive residents who were being actively monitored, 27 residents who have recovered completely from the disease and eight residents who have died, according to a news release issued by Fulton County Director of Public Health Laurel Headwell.
All of those numbers have grown considerably since the initial discovery of 24 COVID-19 positive cases at the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare on April 24. By May 1, the number of positive cases at the facility had risen to 31, with a total of 54 cases being monitored throughout the county. In a news release issued that day, Headwell warned that testing in Fulton County was still limited and advised residents to do their part to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.
On May 2, Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead said county officials had determined that the Fulton Center had not brought any known COVID-19 positive patients into the facility recently, which means the outbreak can likely be attributed to community spread via the center’s staff members.
As of May 2, 898 Fulton County residents had been tested within the county since the pandemic first took hold in New York state. As of a Friday, an additional 195 people have been tested, bringing the county to about 1,093 residents tested, with 9.4 percent testing positive, a higher rate than the neighboring counties to the north and south: Montgomery County (970 tested, 6.6 percent positive) and Hamilton County (57 tested, 8.8 percent positive).
However, Fulton County’s neighboring counties to the east and west — Saratoga County (6,308 tested, 6.2 percent positive) and Herkimer County (1,120 tested, 6.8 percent positive) — have both not only tested more people, but also have a lower positive percentage.
Back on May 2, Stead announced that Fulton County had hired a private physician to do testing at the Fulton Center and that the county had provided the facility with additional masks. While a staff person working at the facility confirmed more testing began there on Sunday, that person was uncertain whether county officials, state officials or a combination of both were performing the tests.
Headwell in her Friday news release warned Fulton County’s approximately 50,000 residents to remain vigilant against the spread of the virus.
“With COVID-19, not all people will develop symptoms; some people will remain asymptomatic,
but act as a carrier for the virus,” she said in the release. “You can stop the spread by staying home and distancing yourself from others. When you have to go out for essentials, wear a cloth face covering. Wearing one will protect other people from catching the virus from you. Be responsible for yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and everyone in the community. We can get through this if everyone takes the necessary precautions. Stay home; stay safe, save a life!”
However, Fulton County residents haven’t been doing a very good job with social distancing in recent weeks according to an analysis from a company called Unacast, which tracks data from cell phones. Unacast has been publishing a Social Distancing Scoreboard for different geographic areas since the crisis began, using data from how cell phones interact as a barometer to determine how well people are social distancing.
According to Unacast, Fulton County scores an overall “D” grade for social distancing, which is actually better than all of its bordering counties. All of New York state also scores a “D” from Unacast, while the United States as a whole received a “D-”.
Unacast’s scoreboard also shows that Fulton County has seen a daily reduction in the average mobility of its residents of only 25 percent to 40 percent, giving it a “D” in that category, while it earned an “F” in non-essential visits, with less than a 55 percent decrease in that category. One area in which Fulton County residents seem to be doing fairly well is reducing the density of people at social encounters, between 74 percent and 82 percent, earning it a “C”. For comparison, the state as a whole received an “F”, as it has only seen a 40 percent reduction in social density.
Fulton County saw its greatest level of reduction of mobility among residents, a 40 to 55 percent reduction, shortly after the two dozen positive cases at the Fulton Center were announced. Since then, mobility has jumped up and down and by May 5, only 25 percent of residents were showing a reduction in mobility, according to Unacast.
Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Charlie Potter said Fulton County residents must take the social distancing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seriously.
“People should stay six-feet apart and wear some kind of mask,” he said.