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Quick, Aggressive Responses Will Be Needed To Avoid Local Outbreaks

Most county residents knew that, at some point, we would have outbreaks of COVID-19.

In the past two weeks, we have seen outbreaks at Fieldbrook Farms and the State University at Fredonia.

Here’s the good news — hospitalizations remain low even as focused testing in the north county reveals a flood of COVID-19 infections. Our health care system is handling the increased cases just fine, and that was the justification for all of the closures and limitations we’ve all dealt with since March.

We always knew, as things opened back up, that there would be positive cases. It’s important to know how many of them there are so that we can gauge the health care system’s response. So far, so good.

It’s also important to realize that we can do it better.

According to the South China Morning Post, an outbreak was discovered June 11, traced to chopping boards used for imported salmon at a Beijing outdoor market. The market was shut down for disinfection two days after the outbreak was discovered with testing of all those who visited the market after May 30. In the end, 335 cases were diagnosed and 33 asymptomatic carriers identified. All were isolated and treated in a Beijing hospital. The best news is that, after July 5, no further cases were detected.

There is a lesson to learn from the June Beijing outbreak — quick surveillance, investigation and rapid response can quickly contain an outbreak. For areas like ours, which are rural and not as densely populated, it makes sense that quick actions by our area’s leaders, public cooperation and consistent directions given from health care providers to patients should keep COVID-19 from breaking out too severely as we reopen schools and, hopefully, reopen businesses.

But, again, that requires some buy-in from the community. It’s not uncommon to hear differing guidelines on quarantines depending on which testing site one visits. County health officials say the Fieldbrook Farms outbreak is likely resolving itself now, but the situation may have been more quickly contained if people were notified more quickly.

Quick, aggressive responses will be needed to keep outbreaks from festering and our region from being further shut down. Everyone involved in this process needs to be as nimble as possible — and people need to listen.

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