Have coronavirus and live in Northern NY? Expect to see sheriffs

Published: May. 4, 2020 at 6:14 PM EDT
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The government wants you to take the coronavirus seriously and in Northern New York, they are making sure you do. Our Kelly O'Brien explains how.

If someone is suspected of having COVID-19 or was in contact with someone who has it or might have it, they will get a daily call from the health department.

If someone is confirmed with the virus, they will get the sheriff's department at their doorstep every day making sure they are following orders.

Driving the streets of Clinton County is a part of the job for any patrol officer with the Clinton County Sheriff's Department, but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have added one more must-do to their daily task list.

"We just want to be able to verify that the person on the list is home," Lt. Nicholas Leon said.

The sheriff's department does daily, in-person check-ins with those isolated in their homes.

Right now, they have about 10 people they check in with daily, but that number was doubled when the county saw more cases.

"Check in with these people for compliance but also to make sure they are OK," Leon explained.

It's a part of the Quarantine and Isolation Process from the Clinton County Health Department. The health department and sheriff's department needs to hand-deliver the order mandating a person is either in quarantine or isolation. It can get a little confusing deciphering the two. Here's how John Kanoza, the director of Public Health at the Clinton County Health Department, breaks it down.

"Quarantine is the 14 days from the date of exposure or potential exposure to see if the exposed person is going to develop symptoms and need to be isolated," Kanoza said.

He says mandatory quarantine is for close contacts of someone infected and precautionary quarantine is for proximate contacts.

"Isolation is for people with symptoms. It lasts for at least seven days from symptom onset plus 72 hours without a fever and without the use of fever-reducing medication," Kanoza explained.

These orders from the health department are legal orders, so the sheriff's department takes the check-ins pretty seriously.

"There are legal repercussions for those people that are on isolation that refuse to stay home," Leon said.

Leon says the repercussions can vary depending on the situation but can lead to an arrest.

He said so far the department has not had any issues with compliance and most people are understanding.

I was able to speak with someone in isolation off camera. He said he gets why daily check-ins are a thing but he's frustrated by it. He says he doesn't know how he got the virus, he followed the rules-- wore a mask and socially distanced-- but now he has it, he can't leave his house for a ride in his truck and he just wants to get back to work.

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