New COVID-19 cases continued to outpace the rest of the state this week, further widening the gap of active cases compared to other counties on a per capita basis.

Orleans has reported 319 cases in the last two weeks and 5 of the county’s top 10 days for new cases has come in that timeframe, including 61 cases on Wednesday and 32 cases on Thursday.

The county has more than twice the number of active cases per capita, with 118.5 cases per 10,000 people than the next closest county of Essex with 57.6 cases per 10,000. Caledonia is fifth with 53.1 cases per 10,000. The statewide average is 45.6 cases per 10,000.

The surge of cases has impacted schools, businesses and families, as 2 schools have been forced to shift to remote learning and numerous other individual classes as well.

This has had reverberations throughout the community.

“Fortunately we don’t have any COVID patients at the hospital,” said Wendy Franklin, Director of Communications at North Country Hospital in Newport. Franklin did note, though, that like NVRH they were running with a higher than usual “census” meaning many of the hospital’s beds were occupied with patients for a variety of different reasons.

“We are prepared to see COVID patients,” added Franklin, referring to various options that the hospital has to create extra capacity should the need arise. “We are hoping that isn’t necessary.”

Andrea DeLaBruere, Executive Director at the Agency of Human Services, said statewide there are more hospital beds available now than there were a few weeks ago. “We aren’t seeing a huge backlog at this point.”

Franklin, whose office overlooks NCH’s testing location, said she has been watching long lines of cars work their way through the queue for several days now. Franklin said a portion of the tests are of people getting the PCR test necessary to be cleared to travel to Canada, but a growing number are also among children, many of whom are close contacts from numerous cases identified at area schools.

“Kids are getting it now. I think that’s what people are tending to forget,” said Franklin. “This isn’t the same COVID that people were dealing with a year ago.”

“People just need to use some common sense,” She added, about the need to get vaccinated, wear masks, and to stay home when sick or recommended to quarantine.

Two of the schools significantly impacted by the rising cases are Derby Elementary and Newport City Elementary. Derby Elementary shifted to remote learning over a week ago and Newport City shifted remote earlier this week.

On Friday, North Country Supervisory Union Superintendent John Castle notified families in the district that both schools would need to remain remote to start next week.

“As you know, our community is experiencing high levels of COVID cases. Subsequently, several of our schools have had many positive cases and identified a high number of close contacts,” said Castle. “We have many classes that have had to pivot to remote instruction and Derby and Newport City Elementary Schools will continue remote through part of next week. Schools are instituting increased mitigation efforts to reduce the potential transmission of the virus in school. We ask all staff and families to remain vigilant in your efforts to diminish the spread of the virus.”

Franklin noted the school closures have had an impact on the hospital as some staff are parents who have had to stay home to care for their children learning remotely.

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