ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. (WWTI) — A State of Emergency has been called in St. Lawrence County.

This was declared on Tuesday, December 7 by County Officials in response to the recent rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitals being near capacity in the region.

The State of Emergency was discussed the previous day at the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Meeting by Board Chair Bill Sheridan and all County Legislators. The group determined that the declaration was “both timely and important” to address current challenges in hospital systems due to the rise of COVID-19 in the county.

This was specifically following a list released by New York State of hospitals where bed capacity exceeded safe levels due to COVID-19 surges, and elective hospitals were prohibited. This included several hospitals in St. Lawrence County.

According to County Officials, a State of Emergency was declared also based on recommendations from the St. Lawrence County Board of Health and the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department.

“Our county is seeing record levels of COVID 19 infections and hospitalizations. The surge of cases is intensifying as we head into the winter months and shows no sign of decreasing,” St. Lawrence County Board of Health President Dr. Andrew Williams said in a press release. “While the Delta variant is driving our current crisis, cases of the Omicron variant have now been found in New York State and may compound our challenges. Our Emergency Services and hospital systems are under increasing stress due to the pandemic.”

Dr. WIlliams also confirmed that a third of all hospital patients at the two largest acute care hospitals in St. Lawrence County have been COVID-19 patients.

The decision to declare a State of Emergency was also supported by local hospital leaders included St. Lawrence Health and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.

St. Lawrence County’s State of Emergency will remain in place for one month, through January 6, 2022, and will be reviewed prior to that date to determine if an extension is needed.