MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services reported 37 New Cases of COVID-19 in the County for Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. They also say the majority of the cases again come of out SUNY Fredonia.
As of Friday morning, there’s been 51 cases of the coronavirus involving SUNY Fredonia students, with 50 of them still listed as active. Meanwhile, there are a total of 166 active cases in the county as of Thursday afternoon.
Chautauqua County executive PJ Wendel told WRFA on Thursday that it appears most of the active cases are coming from either SUNY Fredonia or Fieldbrook Foods food processing plant in Dunkirk.
“Right now that’s what the numbers are indicating. We do see an uptick at SUNY Fredonia and Fieldbrook Foods. We issued a press release urging everyone in those communities to be vigilant. But that goes for everybody in Chautauqua County. And (Erie) County Executive Mark Poloncarz alluded to [Wednesday] that all of us in all five Western New York counties are very concerned about this,” Wendel said.
Wendel also expressed frustration with some employees at Fieldbrook Foods who were at high risk of possibly having the virus not practicing social distancing while awaiting test results.
“We heard there were a large number of individuals who failed their screening test. Immediately that afternoon, we set up our mass testing, which began on Aug. 25. Those individuals were told to isolate and quarantine. But at least one individual reported, ‘I had a party at my house with about 40 people.'”
The County executive also responded to calls by Governor Andrew Cuomo that local governments in Western New York need to do a better job of enforcing measures intended to slow the spread COVID-19, saying there’s not much the county can do when it comes to residents having social gatherings on their own private property, which appears to be the cause of much of the recent spike in cases.
“We are enforcing those rules. We are enforcing those masks… but we have to have our residents help us as well. We need everybody to work together at this. We’re in this together,” Wendel said. “The government of Chautauqua County is not a police state. That’s not what this is intended to do. We just need everybody to work together with us to keep this under control.”
Meanwhile, there are now 595 people in the county who are under quarantine/isolation orders by the County Public Health Director and being monitored. Not all of those being monitored are confirmed to have COVID-19 but have either shown symptoms, are awaiting results, or have risk factors. An additional 670 people are under domestic traveler quarantine for having arrived to the County from a state listed on the New York State travel advisory list. Also, five people hospitalized in Chautauqua County as of Wednesday had tested positive for COVID-19.
Since the start of the pandemic in mid-March of this year, there’s been 479 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the county, with 303 now listed as recovered. There’s also been 10 deaths, the most recent being reported on Tuesday.
Also on Thursday, Governor Cuomo announced that the rapid testing site in Dunkirk, along seven other test sites across the Western New York Region, is not yielding good news.
“Western New York is not good news – 1.9 percent [Wednesday]. The state’s effort on the rapid testing that we started – we did 6,400 tests this week. It’s a 4 percent positivity overall which is high. Again, it’s not a random sample. These are people who think they may have the virus and that’s why they come in. Chautauqua County was 4.5, Niagara 2.8, Buffalo City 5.9, Erie without Buffalo 2.3,” the governor said.
To help continue the rapid testing for COVID-19 in the county and respond to the spike in new cases, Wendel also announced Thursday afternoon four new machines are coming to serve both the north county and south county to help test more people and get results faster, with 1,000 test kits being provided for the equipment.
He said the equipment will be very helpful in case of another outbreak similar to Fieldbrook Foods.