Snow emergency, Hamilton County, Winter weather advisory Thursday Town Hall Segment One

Do the tests that we’re using right now work on finding these new variants? Our verify team has that answer and then later on. High speed internet is essential these days and the cost is going up for a lot of western new yorkers good thursday evening to you, everybody kate is off tonight we’re, going to start our rundown here on the town hall at 5 30, with an update on the Vaccination effort in new york state slowly, but surely it does appear that immunizations are ramping up. The state now says: 95 percent of the first doses have been distributed that have been distributed, have actually been used. They’Ve gone in people’s arms and the governor’s office says the new allocation of doses from the federal government is in the process of being delivered to providers. Cdc data shows that about eight percent of people who live here in new york state have now gotten at least one dose it’s pretty much, even with the nationwide average of 8.1 percent. Joining us live right now is dan stapleton public health director in niagara county. A long time public health leader here in western new york great to have you back on the show, sir appreciate it. Thank you michael. So to start, i wonder if you can give us an update on things on how things are working there in niagara county. In terms of the vaccine, how many doses you have on hand what your plan is and when you’re expecting to get more well right? Now i have 10 doses left first dose.

I have 10 doses left. We we did approximately 400 people yesterday, uh we’ll be starting. Our second doses, which we have 3 500 of those we’ll, be starting those tomorrow and then we’ll really be picking it up ratcheting it up uh next week on tuesday, when we are going to be doing around 900 people for their second dose at the keenan arena. In uh in lockport, so you know, we don’t have any extra on hand. We have 10 uh we’ve, given out about 4 500 doses, since we started and, like i said, we’ll be starting our first uh allotment of the second doses uh tomorrow and then really going uh busier next week. Obviously, supply is is still the big issue right that’s. The issue all across the country um but put that aside, because maybe that’s certainly outside your control. What is the strategy for you and for niagara county as far as these vaccination clinics and how i guess you make the most of what you’re given? Well, we really started. We were doing a lot we started about. Four weeks ago, we started off uh with uh. Doing first doses, like i said, that’s all we’ve done until until starting tomorrow, but we did it at the at the transit driving fantastic operation. You know we did 2200 people in three days: hundreds of people, almost a thousand people the first week, so we’re really uh. That was our first uh uh start of the mass vaccination clinics.

But then we started at the keane arena last week because we just can’t have our staff out in those frigid temperatures uh for long periods of time. For example, nurses, can’t, wear uh, gloves when they’re giving vaccinations. So we moved inside the arena. Both the arena and the drive have both provided those uh facilities, free of charge, no charge to the county, great partnership with them, so we’ve gotten about 4 500 we’ve we’ve, given out 4 490 doses uh. As of yesterday and like i said, we start psychosis tomorrow. So it’s really the case, as you mentioned, that you know i could do uh four to five thousand every week. If i had the vaccine, i did 400 yesterday because that’s all i had, i used up what i had so it’s difficult to do that i have great staff, great volunteers, um, great partners and we’re all ready and uh well ready to roll at a moment’s notice. We just need to get that vaccine in our hands and then we can start very rapidly yeah. That is definitely good to hear and and as we’re hearing that you know, the supply should be increasing um as we as we move into the coming weeks and months. So let’s talk for a second about the current infection rate in niagara county we’re, showing our viewers right now. The rolling average of percent positive in niagara county it’s come down 43 percent over the past month, but still at 6 percent today.

So how do you judge that is that good? Is it bad and what’s your message to people who live in your county in terms of where things stand well, it’s an improvement, and i tell people until we get the vaccinations really rolling here and, like i said we can do you know four to five. Every week uh we won’t see that number precipitously dropping. We know the only thing that’s going to stop the the coca 19 pandemic is vaccine. You know we still people wash your hands wear your mask. Those are still really important. Stay out of large crowds but uh follow you know, contact tracing those types of things are really important, but we know the only thing that’s going to stop is to have the vaccination so we’re telling people we need. We need to be patient, we’re doing 1a and 1b that’s, where we are now uh and opening it up to more uh people isn’t going to increase the supply. We get it’s just going to create more people that are that are concerned because they’re on the priority list, but they’re not getting the vaccine so we’re just telling people need to be patient. We use vaccine as soon as we get it. We got a vaccine on tuesday at 11 00 a.m and we had it in people’s arms, starting at nine o’clock. Yesterday, speaking of things, you know beyond the vaccines, but these important public health measures that we can all still do.

You were among the leaders of five county health departments here in western new york, who issued a joint statement today. We’Ll put that up on the screen. You warn families about traveling out of state during the upcoming winter break. What do you want everybody to know about that travel and the you know, kind of just the risk that goes along with it? I think there’s, two things really first thing is we’re, showing that all of the county health departments in our region are working together are on the same page. Uh people want and expect their leaders to be uh, consistent and that’s. What we’re doing with this? This joint uh release. Secondly, is you know we’re getting a lot of calls people? Well? Can i get a waiver? I want to go away on easter break. I want to go on on the winter break. I want to go away and i’d like a waiver. Well, that doesn’t work that way, there’s no such thing as a waiver, you uh, if you, if you go and visit other parts of the country, then you’re going to end up needing to be quarantined. You know you get you! You get your cova test before you go and then, when you come back, you stay isolated for three days and then on the fourth day you can get your your test and if that test comes back negative, then you’re free to uh to be out in public.

But still follow all the precautions that we expect everybody to follow, whether they’re, positive or not, with only 10 doses. First doses available right now. It seems that you and all the hard workers there in niagara county are about 99.99 percent effective. So far at getting those doses into arms, so good job, there we’ve been chatting with dan stapleton the long time public health director for niagara county great to have you back on the show again. We appreciate your time, michael, thank you for having me really appreciate it. All right, i want to turn right now to a specific viewer question that we got earlier this week. Stacy from the town of alabama in genesee county asked if the coronavirus tests that we’re using right now are able to detect all of the new variants that are popping up. You’Ve probably heard about these mutations from places like the uk, south africa and now brazil well let’s start here with this quote from the cdc. It says that most commercial reverse transcription pcr based tests. Those are the ones that you know the nasal swabs that you’re, seeing that they have multiple targets to detect the virus, such that, even if a mutation impacts, one of the targets, the other targets will still work. So, in other words, the evidence here suggests that these pcr tests will work, but scientists are working around the clock right now to try to study all of this one biological sciences.

Professor, has this warning? Listen. The whole landscape of testing is about to change in the next three or four months, as companies start coming out with one or two dollar tests to perform in five or fewer minutes. The key he says is to make sure that tests are checking multiple genetic targets. So that way, if you think about this, if one of them has mutated, the test can still detect the others, the fda has advised healthcare workers and testing staff to be on alert for false negatives. Due to these variants, though, and get this the cdc recommends in some cases, they may need to test you more than once and use two different kinds of tests that will check those different genetic targets.

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