Jefferson County Public Health Service officials call report of positive COVID-19 case a hoax


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (March 11, 2020) – Late last evening, the Jefferson County Public Health Service was notified that an Internet alert appeared stating: “STATEWIDE ALERT – Jefferson County New York has just confirmed its first case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at Samaritan Medical Center.” A link was also posted, asking readers to “Please visit this link for more information about how to keep yourself safe. Please contact local Health Center if you exhibit flu-like symptoms. Click on link for more details.”

This alert is a hoax. Official reports of Jefferson County, NY COVID-19 status, including positive cases, will only come from three sources: Jefferson County Public Health Service, New York State Department of Health, or the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Official, accurate reports will be issued to the public through the media via press releases and/or press conferences.

A first specimen submitted to Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany on March 6 for a patient who met criteria for testing, tested negative for COVID-19. The Jefferson County Public Health Service ended monitoring of the patient March 8.

Meanwhile, a second specimen for a patient who met criteria for COVID-19 testing was submitted to Wadsworth Laboratory on March 10. The patient is now in precautionary quarantine, pending test results, in which case quarantine will end, or continue if positive. As of this time, no individuals have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus – COVID-19 in Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County Public Health Service continues to work closely with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about testing protocols related to disease transmission. Travel history is still a consideration, along with presentation of specific symptoms.

To date, there are 173 positive COVID-19 cases in New York state, with the vast majority of cases in Westchester County. Local health departments are actively monitoring suspected and positive cases throughout New York state, and it is anticipated that the numbers of people requiring testing and monitoring will continue and grow.

All county health departments are in daily communication with NYSDOH communicable disease leadership to track and monitor exposure potential and possible disease transmission and occurrence in New York state.


(Jefferson County Public Health Service)