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Monroe County coronavirus cases hit 1,000, but there are signs of a plateau


The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Monroe County passed 1,000 on Sunday, according to figures from the county Public Health Department.

Despite the grim milestone, the case count of 1,016 is still thought to be an undercount of the prevalence of the virus in the community, largely because a limited testing capacity has forced health care providers to prioritize tests for certain groups of people.

County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said those groups are mainly health care workers, first responders, and people who have been hospitalized.

More recently, Mendoza has given implicit approval for clinicians to test more people as the number of tests that local labs can run has slowly grown.

Though the number of confirmed cases has continued to rise, there are growing signs that the pandemic's intensity has reached a plateau locally.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment has remained just below 100 for the last week, and the number of those people in an ICU has ticked down to 30 from a high point of 39 on April 8.

Also, patients in 442 of the confirmed cases have fully recovered, according to the county.

Governor Andrew Cuomo credited aggressive distancing measures with forestalling an overload of upstate health care systems. In a news conference Sunday, the governor said the epidemic appeared to have plateaued statewide, but cautioned that it the virus was far from gone.

“We controlled the beast. We apexed," he said. "But the beast is still alive. We did not kill the beast. And the beast can rise up again. We know that."

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello has advocated a slow approach to reopening local businesses and government operations.

The county's hospital systems said they were seeing the beginnings of the plateau Cuomo described, but it was too early to tell if the trend would continue.

"We’re all kind of holding our collective breath," said Chip Partner, a spokesperson for the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Brett Dahlberg is a health reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at