Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says a cluster of coronavirus cases has developed in Whitesboro stemming from a positive case at a local dance school.
Picente says it's the largest and fastest-spreading local cluster since the start of the pandemic, with more than 20 people testing positive, 18 of whom are between the ages of 6 and 17.
According to Picente, students at the dance school participated in a competition in Syracuse on April 17, and multiple students who had symptoms and later tested positive, attended the event. The county executive said he will not name the dance school.
On Monday, Whitesboro CSD announced all students would learn remotely Tuesday due to “extensive community exposures” to COVID-19. Picente confirmed this was a direct result of the exposures at the dance competition.
“In this case, it’s possible that more school districts will be affected, and may have to go remote as a result,” he said.
Many school districts, including Whitesboro, just returned to fully in-person learning last week.
The county health department is working with the district on contact tracing.
“Their hope is to reopen tomorrow. However, 300 students are in quarantine. There’s another 300 that will be required to self-monitor,” said Picente. “And it just doesn’t end there, is my point, because of those 300 students, remember that could be as many as 300 families. And just do the multiplying effect of what happens, when people go into quarantine.”
Since the start of the pandemic, health officials have stressed to people the importance of staying home if experiencing symptoms, in order to avoid this kind of spread.
When people ask Picente why they have to be placed in quarantine when they’re following the rules, he says it’s because others aren’t.
“It’s because of failure by others to follow simple safety guidelines, like wearing masks, social distancing, testing and the most simple, of staying home and not participating in activities when you have symptoms,” said Picente.
Picente also said the dance school did not have a contingency plan in place,as the state has required for sports considered high risk. The county executive said he doesn't want to start closing things down again, but he would if he had to.
No other school districts have announced any plans to go remote at this time.
Watch Picente's full Tuesday update on the cluster below: