Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel and County Health Director Christine Schuyler held a press conference Monday afternoon to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in Chautauqua County. During the conference, Wendel explained that there were 15 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the county for Saturday, Sunday and Monday, bringing the new number of active cases up to 31. Wendel added that 22 of the 31 active cases come from the Fieldbrook Farms food processing plant in Dunkirk.
“Upon identifying a potential cluster of cases, the county has been working with Fieldbrook local management as well as Wells Enterprises – based in Iowa – the corporate office, to mitigate further spread and to review their COVID-19 safety and screening protocol,” Wendel said. “They have been very cooperative in their efforts, including collaborating with Chautauqua County and the New York State Department of Health to conduct COVID-19 testing for all employees at the Dunkirk facility.
While the processing plant is located in the north county, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said in a followup media release and statement Monday night that a high number of the Fieldbrook Farms’ positive cases involve workers who live in the Jamestown area.
“We do want to remind the public that we have to remain vigilant during this time and to continue wearing a mask and social distancing. We’re definitely not out of the woods and the CDC is predicting that there could be another spike this fall,” Sundquist said during the Jamestown City Council work session.
The number of active cases in the county is three times higher than what was reported just a week earlier. The increase was enough to get a mention from Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a Monday press conference, when he said there were clusters of new cases cropping up in Western New York that are serving as a “Caution Flag.” But he also added that the number of new positive cases is not cause for serious concern, but is worth looking into.
County officials say they are working with Fieldbrook management to review safety protocols and to prevent further spread of the virus. Schuyler also said there will likely be additional cases reported in the coming days as contact tracing continues, more testing is done, and as test results are returned.
Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus have been put in mandatory quarantine.
Currently a total of 130 county residents under quarantine or isolation in addition to 414 people under domestic traveler quarantine for having arrived to Chautauqua County from a state listed on the New York state travel advisory. Not everyone in quarantine has the virus, but has either been in close contact with a person who has, has come from an area with a higher rate of positive cases, or has symptons associated with the virus.
There’s now been 301 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County since the start of the pandemic, although the vast majority – 261 in all – are now listed as recovered. There’s also been nine deaths.