Cases continue to grow in Montgomery County

FONDA — Montgomery County is in the heat of the battle with COVID-19 as their total number of positive cases continue to rise.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort, Public Health Director Sara Boerenko and Sheriff Jeff Smith gave an update on the COVID-19 outbreak. As of Thursday the county had a total of 30 positive cases.

“We now have 30 positive cases in Montgomery County. I’d really like to emphasize the seriousness of the situation,” Ossenfort said. “Even though [Thursday] in the governor’s address there [were] some encouraging signs, we are on the rise here in Montgomery County. We are in the heat of the battle.”

He said numbers are going up dramatically, and they’re going up because the virus is spreading in the community.

Boerenko said Thursday of the 30 confirmed cases, five have recovered, 19 are in quarantine at home, five are under medical care and there has been one fatality. She said those 30 people are people who have an address in the county and does not count the patients St. Mary’s has taken from downstate.

The increase was proven the next day as Friday showed the number of lab confirmed cases stood at 33.

Ossenfort said also on the rise as everyone continues to self isolate are mental health issues and domestic violence.

Boerenko gave some numbers to help with those who may be suffering with mental health issues and some pointers to help themselves and others while in self isolation.

“We know social distancing works, however with social distancing comes social isolation, Boerenko said. “And we’re seeing an increase in depression, anxiety, substance use. We know from working with our local health care providers that they are seeing a number of phone calls to the hotline on a daily basis for people who are just reaching out…”

Some hotline numbers to call include:

∫ For free mental health assistance related to COVID-19 call the state’s hotline at 1-800-863-9314

∫ St. Mary’s 24 hour hotline: (518) 842-9111

∫ Family Counseling Center: (518) 725-4310 extension number 333

∫ Online support groups www.headspace.com/ny

∫ New York’s domestic violence hotline: 1-800-942-6906

Smith said there has been an increase in disorderly persons, domestic disputes and fights, and those numbers are all up from last year a this time.

“We expect them to increase as we move through the month of April,” Smith said.

He said the sheriff’s office has also received several complaints of people who are not following executive orders made by the county and state, and are not social distancing. The fine for disobeying social distancing executive orders has gone up to $1,000.

Smith said these guidelines are in place for public safety.

Last weekend people celebrated Easter, and Ossenfort advised everyone to continue to stay home and social distance as most churches had services online.

“We are going to be celebrating together while apart,” Ossenfort said.

He said if everyone continues to social distance, they have the goal of mid-May to start getting back to normal.

“Everyone do your best, try to hang in there. We will get through this eventually,” Ossenfort said.

For more information, Montgomery County has shared their powerpoint presentation from the Facebook live update on their Facebook page.

For the mental and physical health of those stuck at home, Boerenko suggested sending cards to a nursing home, cleaning or getting some exercise, while observing social distancing rules of 6 feet. She also suggested doing something nice for others such as leaving a “thank you” note for essential workers like the mail carriers or garbage pick-up crews or donating a meal. People can also walk an elderly person’s dog, create a rainbow for the 518 Rainbows campaign or reach out to a friend or family member via telephone.

By Kerry Minor

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