UK COVID-19 strain prompts Saratoga County to set up testing site

Saratoga County

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that the Wadsworth lab confirmed the first U.K. COVID-19 strain at N. Fox Jewelers in Saratoga Springs. On Tuesday, the New York State Health Department opened a testing site in Saratoga County for those who were in the jewelry store.

This COVID-19 test site is available to anyone who shopped at N. Fox Jewelers located on Broadway in Saratoga Springs between December 18 and December 24. and wishes to be tested. County officials said the site is not for the general public and is targeted solely to those who shopped at the store.

Cuomo said a man in his 60s, who was associated with the jewelry store, was the first person in New York to have the UK COVID-19 strain. The governor said the man had some symptoms and did not travel recently, so evidence suggests the variant strain is in the community.

Saratoga County said three other people affiliated with the store are also being tested.

Out of an abundance of caution, before receiving any information regarding the UK strain and not at the direction of the NYS Health Department, the jewelry store elected to close from December 23 through January 3. NYS Department of Health confirmed that all N. Fox Jewelers staff has subsequently tested negative and that no staff is currently contagious.

“N. Fox Jewelers takes the health and safety of our staff and patrons very seriously and we are working closely with State Health Officials on contract tracing, as well as operating guidelines given recent developments,” said an N. Fox spokesperson.

Testing for patrons will occur at Saratoga State Park located at 99 E. West Road in Saratoga Springs on the following dates and times:

  • Tuesday, January 5, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday, January 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Many people told NEWS10 ABC they decided to get tested for their safety and peace of mind.

Chuck Kochheiser was one of many to visit the jewelry store around the holidays.

“I went to the store back on the 21st of December and the 23rd of December. I was taking care of my watch repair, so I was there for a very brief period of time,” he said.

Kochhesier said he decided to do his part by getting tested. “I saw that this was a new strand, so I probably need to go get tested,” he said. 

On Tuesday, Saratoga County held a COVID-19 update on Facebook live.

“Our public health department is working with the New York State Department of Health to trace the individuals that have been affected. So far, just one test has come back positive,” said Mike McEvoy, Saratoga County EMS Coordinator.

During the Facebook live event, many people asked questions about the UK variant and Saratoga County’s response. Many of those questions went unanswered.

Officials also released the following information:

New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Saratoga County Public Health Services continue to actively work on the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant investigation involving N. Fox Jewelers in Saratoga Springs. NYSDOH swabbed and tested 5 additional individuals associated with the store yesterday; 4 of the individuals tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

However further testing is currently underway to determine if they were infected with the B.1.1.7 variant strain. Of the 4 individuals that tested positive, 3 were previously known to be positive, and 1 person had been ill and had been isolating prior to the positive test result. No additional individuals have tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant at this time.

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