Following a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, more than a half-dozen counties in New York’s North Country have declared a state of emergency.

Lawmakers and health experts from Clinton County gathered inside the Legislative Chambers in Plattsburgh Wednesday afternoon to explain their response.

Case counts and infection rates have more than doubled since December 2020, said Mark Henry, chair of the Clinton County Legislature. A year ago, the county had 101 COVID cases. On Wednesday, the county reported 304 new infections, bringing the total since March 2020 to 8,339. More than a third of county’s 52 COVID deaths occurred since September 1, he said. 

Clinton County is one of four counties in New York that did not rescind its original state of emergency, but the situation is prompting leaders from Jefferson, Lewis, St. Laurence, Franklin, Essex, and Hamilton counties to call on the state for assistance.

“Clinton County is working on every level to do all that we can to mitigate this spike,” Henry said. “One important part of this is joining with our North Country counties in extending our declaration of emergency as well as working with New York State to obtain needed resources, especially expanded vaccination and testing.”

In weekly briefings with county officials, Henry has stressed the need for rapid tests for nursing homes, schools and residents.  Clinton County has taken advantage of the state’s offer of assistance from the National Guard; two personnel have recently been sent to nursing homes.

Clinton County’s Public Health Director John Kanoza says COVID-19 symptoms can feel like a normal cold, which is why he urges people not wait to get tested.