The weeks leading into Christmas and all sorts of gatherings are heightening concerns about the spread of the coronavirus around the state and locally.

Friday, December 3, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar confirmed to residents that the local hospitals are getting near the level where an emergency order from Governor Kathy Hochul would have the State Health Department limit surgeries with COVID cases taking up hospital capacity.

WNBF News/Roger Neel Photo
WNBF News/Roger Neel Photo
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Garnar says he was expecting more direction from the Health Department soon as to whether Wilson Hospital and Lourdes would have to put off procedures like hip and knee replacements, cataract removal and treating kidney stones. He urged residents to take personal responsibility to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, wearing a mask and staying home when sick.

December 3, Broome reported 170 new cases, over 1,000 active cases and 67 people hospitalized with COVID. The county executive also said the vaccination rate was remaining steady instead of rising in response to the latest outbreak and the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

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Broome is also increasing its number of appointments for rapid testing for COVID-19 at the Broome County Health Department.

Garnar says assistance from New York State hospital staff will allow rapid testing appointments will be increased to 150 starting December 8 then increase to 250 next week as the county tries to identify and track new cases of COVID-19.

New York State is announcing three more cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, all downstate.  New York is still seeing huge increases in new infections now getting between 9,400 to over 11,000 COVID-19 cases a day over the past several days.

Getty Images jarun011
Getty Images jarun011
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So far officials are putting the onus of dealing with outbreaks on residents, relying on citizens to be responsible.

Erie County in Western New York is the only government outside of New York City to impose mandates.  Broome’s Executive says he’s keeping an eye on how those mask mandates work out.  Garnar says the problem with mandates is, the county, for the most part, enforcement. But, the Democrat says, everything is still on the table.

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