Any day that a COVID-19 death is announced is a bad day. It was another bad day for Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. The latest fatality brings that total number to 20.

Friday's announcement also saw the addition of 12 new cases bringing the total number from the start of the Pandemic for Oneida County to 608. Of those 608 positive cases, 265 have been resolved. 4,396 people total have been tested currently 21 Oneida County residents are hospitalized.

Of the 12 new cases announced today Picente says only one was a worker from Green Empire Farms in Oneida. As a result of the Green Empire Farms outbreak, potential public exposures are starting to be discovered in connection with infected employees. Oneida County Director of Health Phyllis Ellis made the public aware of the following exposures.

Walgreens - 104 Genesee Street in Oneida between 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. (May 2nd)
Walmart - 2024 Genesee Street in Oneida between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (May 2nd)
Walmart - 2024 Genesee Street in Oneida between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. (May 3rd)
Walmart - 2024 Genesee Street in Oneida between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (May 5th)

Even though those locations are in Madison County, the proximity to the residents staying in Oneida County made them relevant to announce. Ellis says of each case, "Risk to the public is low as the person was wearing a mask. Anyone who was in the store during that time period should monitor themselves for symptoms."

In addition to the potential exposures from Green Empire Farm workers, a resident who tested positive reported being at Price Chopper on Black River Boulevard in Rome on May 6th from 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Again, this was a low risk case as the person was wearing a mask. Shoppers should monitor for symptoms.

Picente also addressed the preliminary plans several local businesses are forming to reopen their businesses and to reopen safely. Picente referenced a special certificate businesses would display to show they are maintaining compliance with health department and CDC guidelines. This self-imposed system by businesses would be based on "the honor system."

Since Picente's Executive Order was issued mandating Oneida County residents to wear masks went into effect last week, Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers received 33 complaints of businesses not in compliance, in one way or another. Picente says there were,

22 complaints about people not wearing masks, 6 golf course related complaints, 1 campground complaint, 1 group gathering complaint, 1 complaint of a nonessential business operating, and 2 complaints of businesses allowing food or beverage consumption on premise.

After 'educational' calls were made to all establishments, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office made 25 unannounced follow up visits to those establishments and 100% were found to be in compliance.

Picente continued to echo the sentiment that nobody wants to reopen more than he does and assured residents everything that can be done is being done and people are encouraged to get tested if they feel they would like to. Continue to practice social distancing, continue good hand hygiene and remember to leave the porch light on.