COVID scare at gas station in Saranac Lake | News, Sports, Jobs
SARANAC LAKE — A person allegedly broke public health orders on Sunday and left quarantine to visit a gas station in Saranac Lake.
It wasn’t immediately clear Monday if the person — who has not been identified and likely won’t be, due to federal privacy laws — had tested positive for COVID-19 and left mandatory isolation, or if the person was in quarantine after a possible exposure to coronavirus and awaiting test results. Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane declined to comment, and county Public Health Director Kathleen Strack did not immediately respond to questions about the case on Monday.
The person entered the Hyde Mobil convenience store on Broadway between 6:11 and 6:17 p.m. Sunday, the Hyde Fuel Company said in a statement. A concerned citizen called 911 to report that the person was headed to the station, and as the person was leaving the store, Saranac Lake village police arrived on scene.
Police immediately secured the store. Customers who may have been affected were contacted by the county Public Health department. The store’s staff were cleared by the health department because the person was in the store for a short period of time and the staff members were wearing masks, the fuel company says.
“The store staff had immediately sanitized the affected area where said person was, and in addition, Scooter’s Cleaning Service was contacted and responded immediately to sanitize the entire store as well as the gas pumps,” the company said in a statement.
The store was closed for cleaning Sunday but open Monday.
No one has been charged in connection with the incident, according to the police department.
There was one confirmed active case of COVID-19 in Franklin County as of Monday evening, and at least 83 people were in quarantine throughout the county.
As of Monday morning, the number of people in quarantine countywide hadn’t changed since Saturday. Many people are awaiting test results.
“Due to increased testing throughout the state, lab results for COVID-19 have been delayed with results coming back 3 to 14 days later,” Kissane wrote in an email Saturday.
Samples from those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and those who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, are given a higher priority and typically processed faster.
Essex County continues to contend with a coronavirus cluster at the Essex Center, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility in Elizabethtown.
The number of cases tied to the Essex Center was 59 as of Sunday according to the Essex County Health Department. Those cases were discovered following the county’s first COVID-19 fatality, which was reported on Aug. 18; the fatality spurred a testing spree at the facility last week that uncovered dozens more cases. As of Sunday, three Essex Center patients have died from COVID-19.
Essex County reported Monday that it has 400 people in quarantine and five new positive test results confirmed Monday.
An Essex Center employee tested positive for COVID-19 last month. Staff have been equipped with personal protective equipment since March, and officials at the nursing home had hoped that the precautions would mitigate spread, the Post-Star of Glens Falls reported last week.
Fight isn’t over
Public health officials in Essex and Franklin counties continue to stress the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent hand washing in the fight against COVID-19.
Following the outbreak at Essex Center, face-to-face visitations at Mercy Living Center, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility in Tupper Lake, were put on a temporary moratorium last week. On Monday, Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake placed a moratorium on hospital patient visitations for at least seven days. Only those who are accompanying a maternity patient, or a patient facing an end-of-life situation, will be allowed to visit the hospital. AMC had zero COVID-19 patients as of Monday, according to a news release it issued. Hospital administrators plan to revisit the no-visitors policy every seven days.
All of the local hospitals continue to offer COVID-19 testing. Information on how to schedule an appointment to be tested is available on each hospital’s website.
Though there are many vaccines in development, vaccines and other treatments typically go through various levels of clinical trials, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would need to authorize a treatment.
The FDA granted an emergency use authorization on Sunday, opening the door for doctors in the United States to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients with plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. President Donald Trump hailed the treatment as a “breakthrough” during a news briefing Sunday. The World Health Organization expressed caution. WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told reporters during a press conference on Monday that a few trials of convalescent plasma have produced results, but that the evidence so far is “still very low quality,” with the trials using small sample sizes. The results have been inconclusive.
Swaminathan said convalescent plasma treatment is “still an experimental therapy” and that clinical trials should continue.
Across New York state, there were 408 new COVID-19 cases and seven COVID-19 fatalities on Sunday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.