The number of COVID-19 cases in Ulster County is increasing at an alarming rate.

While the Mid-Hudson Valley has been focused on Orange County and the clusters of cases that have been popping up in certain "red zones," Ulster County has seen a rapid increase in positive cases.

ON October 25 the positive rate of infection was up to 5.3%. This is the highest it's been since May 18 when the county was at 6%. There are just under 250 active cases right now, numbers that Ulster hasn't seen since June.

Ulster County Government
Ulster County Government

So why is Ulster suddenly seeing so many cases? A recent uptick in cases in Dutchess County, which has since fallen back to normal levels, was blamed on outbreaks at Marist College and a nursing home in Beacon. Currently, SUNY New Paltz is only showing five active cases, two of which are employees. Woodland Pond Senior Living Center in New Paltz has reported 15 positive cases between staff and residents. It's unclear where the over 200 other cases have come from.

According to the Ulster County COVID-19 Dashboard, however, New Paltz isn't leading the county's recent spike. At just 20 active cases, New Paltz is at the same level as Marlborough and Plattekill. The Town of Ulster currently has 30 cases and the City of Kingston has 45. Smaller towns throughout the county are also reporting more than 10 cases each, including Shawangunk, Saugerties, Wawarsing, and the Town of Lloyd.

As a result of the uptick in cases, SUNY New Paltz has canceled next semester's spring break, replacing it with five "Mind, Body and Spirit Days." The New Paltz school district has also delayed in-class learning, which was scheduled to begin this week.

It's still unclear why Ulster seems to have so many new cases, but it's something that has made local residents uneasy. A Facebook group which shares resources on COVID-19 cases in Ulster and Dutchess was full of comments on Monday from residents fearing that this is the second wave they've been warned about. Some claimed that they have seen fewer people wearing masks and some businesses ignoring social distance rules. Complacency, it seems, may sadly be the main reason for community spread of the virus throughout the county. State officials continue to urge residents to stay vigilant, wear masks and practice social distancing.

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