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Health officials explain reasoning behind recent spike in Broome County COVID-19 cases

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BROOME COUNTY (WBNG) -- With COVID-19 cases in Broome County more than doubling since late last week, local health officials are highlighting the source.

"It is mainly all community spread, so not tied to any congregate care setting, but really people going out in large groups," said Broome County Health Department Executive Director Rebecca Kaufman.

While the advice to keep up with hand washing and wearing masks remains, the new push she explained, "Now it's really time to socialize smaller, so if you're going to go out it's not with a group of 12 or 15, but a group of 2 and 3."

And while the seasons are changing, she said outdoor dining is still the way to go.

"And make sure you're in facilities that have a lot of space, breathing room, circulating air, all of those things really do matter when it comes to spread."

As for the slew of health alerts you may have seen from both the health department and businesses, Kaufman explained the department only sends out alerts if the situation meets certain criteria.

"We put out an alert if we can't contact trace where someone has been during their infectious period, their infectious period is the 48 hours before their symptoms began or before their test date if they're asymptomatic."

She detailed contact tracing includes those called "close contacts" or people who interacted with the infected person within 6 feet for 10 or more minutes.

"If the person was not in contact with another person for 10 or more minutes, or we are able to contact everyone they have been in contact for 10 or more minutes, we don't issue the alert."

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar adds this jump has him worried for the future. Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has said if a region surpasses a 9% infection rate over a week, schools would once again shut down.

"That is going to cause a tremendous problem with parents being able to watch their kids and then as a result of that parents being able to work themselves," said Garnar.

Adding to the recent case spike, the possibility of an unemployment spike as well.

Kaufman stressed that if you are ever contacted as a part of the contact tracing process to be as transparent and provide as many details as possible.

Julia Gorman

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