Hand sanitizer

HOPEWELL — With the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario County attributed to parties and social gatherings, the county’s director of public health is urging people to celebrate this Independence Day weekend safely.

“This is not a disease that just older people are getting,” Mary Beer said. “The majority of the COVID-19 cases we are seeing now are 40-year-olds or younger, and they have been exposed at a social gathering. The COVID-19 crisis is not over.”

Beer said her department investigated 55 new cases in June, and 64% of those were community acquired (not associated with a long-term care facility or nursing home). Those cases could be from a household contact or spread by an asymptomatic carrier at a social gathering.

“This week alone, we have investigated several COVID-19 cases that occurred because of parties or social gatherings,” she said, adding that the age demographic of the virus is changing in Ontario County and other counties in the Finger Lakes.

Beer is urging people to limit any Fourth of July celebrations to close contacts. People also are urged to wear a face covering, stay six feet from other people, and wash their hands frequently.

“Hand-washing and the use of hand sanitizer remains vitally important,” she said.

According to directives from the state Department of Health, gatherings during Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan limits gatherings to 50 people or less. People are also urged to wear face coverings in public and when they are within six feet of another person, even outdoors.

If local businesses are not following guidelines, officials recommend leaving and/or reporting possible violations to the code enforcement officer in the municipality where they are taking place.

“We urge you to take precautions this Fourth of July,” Beer said. “We are relying on each other to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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