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County experiencing another COVID-19 surge; officials say variant may be cause

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Monroe County is in the midst of another COVID-19 case surge, according to county officials.

Dr. Michael Mendoza, the county's public health commissioner, reported 302 new cases Thursday, raising the county’s seven-day positivity rate to 2.7%.

He said the significant increase may be due to the U.K. variant B.1.1.7. Mendoza said this strain is more contagious, but its impact shouldn’t be as lethal.

“What we are dealing with now is a very different virus than what we were dealing with in previous surges. The most important difference is that we now have a vaccine that works,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza called it a race between the vaccine and the variants. 

The positivity increase is most prevalent in residents ages 30 and younger.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said vaccinating this demographic is the only way to achieve some sort of normalcy by summer.

“It's critical for young people to get this vaccine because young people tend to be more asymptomatic and can spread it to older people,” he said. “It's also how we get out of this pandemic and be able to start opening things up again.”

The county currently has an abundant supply of the Moderna vaccine, which can be used by individuals 18 and older.

The FDA has approved only the Pfizer vaccine for people younger than 18. That won’t be available locally for a few weeks.

To schedule a vaccination appointment, click here.