Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says January and February will be “terrible, terrible months” that are “going to feel like an eternity” as he expects another big increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths resulting from traveling and visiting over Christmas through New Year’s Day.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file photo)

The dire warning comes as the Democrat announced December 30 a record number of new cases at 144 and record hospitalizations. Garnar says 105 Broome residents were in the hospital December 29, and 98 December 30. About 2,000 were said to be in quarantine.

Garnar joins state and national officials in warning that people must stay away from gatherings, wear masks and maintain physical distance of at least six feet to try to slow the spread of the virus.

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The Executive says conversations with local hospitals reveals the issue isn’t the number of beds, the county is at about 38-percent available beds in Intensive Care Units, but with the strain on staffing at healthcare facilities.

As more people become sick and go into quarantine in the general population, that means there are also a greater number of healthcare workers in quarantine and unable to work.  He adds it does not appear that there has been that great of a response by retired or otherwise in-active doctors and nurses to step back into the workforce to help that had been hoped when State officials recently put out an appeal.

Garnar says a major factor will be tonight, New Year’s Eve, to see if people heed the warning and resist the tradition of large parties to ring in the new year.

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