Governor Kathy Hochul has announced urgent action to boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages ahead of potential spikes in COVID-19 cases this upcoming winter.
Hochul signed an Executive Order allowing the State Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity to protect access to critical health care services. Limited capacity is defined as below 10% staffed bed capacity, or as determined by the Department of Health based on regional and health care utilization factors.
The new protocols will begin this Friday, December 3rd, and will be re-assessed based on the latest COVID-19 data on January 15th. The Executive Order will also enable New York State to acquire more quickly any critical supplies to combat the pandemic.
Hochul cited seeing warning signs of spikes as well as concern about the new Omicron variant in making the decision. She also encouraged every New Yorker to get vaccinated and to get the booster if fully vaccinated.
According to state data, Western New York’s 7-day average positivity rate as of Saturday was 10.3%. In Chautauqua County, the 7-day average positivity rate for the week of November 14th though 20th was 9.1%. Hospitalizations in the county doubled that week from the previous week, with 50 people hospitalized. There also were 663 new cases, which is over 200 new cases from the prior week.
The Chautauqua County Health Department is updating contact tracing starting today. The Department will prioritize case investigation interviews of people who tested positive for, or were diagnosed with, COVID-19 in the past six (6) days, based on test date or symptom onset. Contact tracing efforts will focus on household contacts and people living, working or visiting congregate living facilities, high density workplaces, schools, or other settings or events with potential widespread transmission of COVID-19.
Any person who tests positive for COVID-19, must isolate for 10 days past the onset of symptoms or the date the test was obtained if there are no symptoms.
County Health officials said because of the intense surge in cases, there is a delay between when some people find out they have a positive COVID-19 test result and when the Health Department can call them to explain isolation and notify their close contacts. Therefore, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should tell their close contacts and household contacts to quarantine.
If you are a close contact of someone that tests positive for COVID-19, you must quarantine unless you are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms.
Also in accordance with CDC guidance and effective today, Chautauqua County residents who are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive individual and are not fully vaccinated can be released from quarantine after seven full days following the last COVID-19 exposure if they have a negative COVID-19 test on day 5 or later and have had no symptoms reported during daily monitoring.
Quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after completion of Day 7. Acceptable COVID-19 tests include NAAT (PCR) tests or antigen tests.