Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente briefed the media via a live feed without reporters in the room on Thursday afternoon.  The decision to exclude members of the media was in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which is growing at a high rate across New York State. There have been 17 new cases in the state in the last 24-hours, including two from Oneida County and one from Herkimer County.

"We're trying to restrict access to our building," said Picente. "I can assure you the county government is functioning," he said.

During the briefing, Picente spoke about the shortage of tests and why the county has to be so particular with which people get tested. "We're trying to make sure the most severe cases get tested and go through first," he said. "There are a limited number of tests and equipment to perform the tests as well as the backlog that's slowing things down. We've requested through state government and we haven't heard back," he added.

As of Tuesday, 213 people in the county have been tested and 223 people are in quarantine. Two more people tested positive to the virus on Thursday morning and of the four people who tested positive in total, none of them have been hospitalized. "We're monitoring them on a daily basis," said Phyllis Ellis of the Oneida County Health Department.  "The majority of the people should not be admitted, which is the purpose of the monitoring," she said.

How bad is this going to be economically for the County?

"We have a fund balance and the county is financially healthy," said Picente. "The sales tax will take a significant hit. We all need to tighten up and restrict spending and restrict purchasing and I've warned them (county, city, villages) that this is going to have an impact first, second and third quarters at least," he added. "The shutdown of the casinos is going to have a huge impact as well. We're going to have to adapt."

What to do if you feel sick

If you have mild symptoms, recently traveled, are experiencing respiratory symptoms and fever, or think you've been exposed to someone, Picente reminded residents that they should self isolate for 14 days.  If the symptoms worsen, you should contact your healthcare provider. Picente stressed that people should not go to emergency room, clinic,  or hospital unannounced. "They should. call first,"he said.