Update: Monroe County has reported eight additional cases of COVID-19 on March 15, and one Rochester firefighter who responded to a call for one of the new cases has been self-quarantined.
The firefighter, who responded to an EMS call, was not showing any symptoms as of the evening of March 15.
The new cases were announced around 7 p.m. March 15 by Monroe County Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza.
Monroe County has 10 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus.
Health department investigators are tracing the contacts of the people with confirmed cases and are trying to determine if there are nay locations where the general public could have been exposed.
Of the eight new cases, five are quarantined at home. One patient is in Rochester General, one is in Unity and one is in Highland hospital.
Nine recreation centers throughout the city, putting them within walking distance of many children, and seven schools will be open weekdays to feed youngsters as they and the rest of Monroe County residents adjust to the new normal brought on by COVID-19.
“There is a lot of understandable anxiety in our community right now,” County Executive Adam Bello said at a news conference March 15 to announce additional resources for city and county families.
“It’s exactly why it’s important now more than ever for us to come together and help each other,” he said.
On March 14, Bello declared a state of emergency in the county and closed all public schools. That left many families with questions about day care, food and how to get other services that schools provide. Rochester City School District Superintendent Terry Dade said that plans are being developed to continue student learning and that updates would be provided to families.
The situation around COVID-19 changes quickly, and Bello said residents can expect updates almost daily.
The news conference covered how city students could receive meals, how families could get information about day care and subsidies, and health updates including COVID-19 testing and whether restaurants should close.
Bello also announced that the county website, www.monroecounty.gov, would have updates on resources. People also can call the health department hotline at (585) 753-5555. Here’s what was discussed at the news conference:
School-age children will be able to get grab-and-go breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting March 16 at the following R-Centers:
- Adams Street, 85 Adams St.;
- Ave D, 200 Ave. D;
- Carter Street, 500 Carter St.;
- Tyshaun Cauldwell, 524 Campbell St.;
- Frederick Douglass, 990 South Ave.;
- Flint Street, 271 Flint St.; David Gantt, 700 North St.;
- Trenton and Pamela Jackson (Clinton-Baden), 485 N. Clinton Ave.;
- Thomas Ryan, 530 Webster Ave.
Other R-Centers will be closed and staff moved to the facilities that are open.
The following schools will be open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday:
- East Upper & Lower School, 1801 E. Main St.;
- Dr. Freddy Thomas Campus, 625 Scio St.;
- former Jefferson High School, 1 Edgerton Pk.;
- James Monroe High School, 164 Alexander St.;
- John Williams School No. 5, 555 Plymouth Ave.;
- Wilson Foundation Academy, 200 Genesee St.
- School 42, 3330 Lake Ave.
The meals are already packaged to follow practices of social distancing. Enhanced cleaning protocols will be put in place.
Foodlink is working with the city and also with pantries in the towns.
Suburban parents were advised to call their district to learn about arrangements for children’s meals.
Families that need help with food, shelter or nonmedical services are advised to call Lifeline at 211.
Information about day care and subsidies for families who qualify is at www.monroecounty.gov. Additionally, in-person interviews for benefits for new applicants has been suspended for 30 days and 60 days for existing beneficiaries.
Families with questions about day care can contact the Child Care Council at (585) 654-4720.
However, Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, asked day care operators to consider how they can change their operations to mitigate any risk. He also asked senior centers to take a hard look at what they can do to reduce risk of transmission, particularly because older people are more vulnerable to the virus.
Rochester Regional Health is able to do limited testing for the virus, but only for those who meet medical guidelines. Testing is not available right now upon request.
Mendoza provided that state Department of Health criteria for testing:
- someone who had close contact with a confirmed case;
- someone who traveled to affected locations and who has symptoms;
- someone was has been isolated and develops symptoms;
- someone with fever, cough and shortness of breath who previously tested negative;
- someone recommended by their health care provider.
Mendoza said the county was evaluating the prospect of drive-up testing sites.
Mendoza acknowledged that humans are social creatures and even with the warning against large gatherings, people still may want to hang out. He said restaurants and bars could pose a transmission risk, and he owners to evaluate whether they can close. “At this time, I am asking for your cooperation,” he said, hinting that at some point it may not be their choice.
He segued into remarks about mental health. “Our mental health is valuable, critical, especially during times like this. We want to think proactively about the things we can do to help mitigate these threats to our own mental health.”
He said the county website would have resources about mental health.
Update on the two confirmed cases
The man who flew from Italy to New York City and took a Greyhound bus to Rochester remains in isolation and is doing well, Mendoza said.
Mendoza said the second patient, a woman who works at Greece Arcadia Middle School, has a large family and they are being evaluated.