Another 11 Cattaraugus County residents tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, the county Health Department announced.
That brings to 358 the number of county residents who have tested positive for COVID-19; 14 have died from complications resulting from the virus.
Most of the test results reported Monday were the rapid COVID-19 tests supplied last week by the New York State Health Department as coronavirus cases increased in Western New York counties.
State health department nurses manned the drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Allegany Fire Department.
The free rapid tests results enable quicker confirmation of COVID-19. Other test results can take three to five days. Isolation and contact tracing can begin earlier with the rapid tests.
Cattaraugus County’s public health director, Dr. Kevin D. Watkins, said Monday that he had many calls during the day about the possibility that neighboring Pennsylvania would be added to New York state’s coronavirus state quarantine list because of rising COVID-19 cases.
Ironically, many of the Southern Tier counties that border Pennsylvania are seeing rising coronavirus rates as well.
If the Keystone State is added to New York’s quarantine list, what impact would that have on Pennsylvania residents working in New York?
If they are classified as essential workers, they could “visit” New York to work for up to 12 hours before heading back south of the state line. They should be sure to wear a mask at all times and not socialize with others when in New York, Watkins said.
What about teachers? Many school districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties have teachers who live in Pennsylvania.
While they are not considered essential workers under New York coronavirus protocols, teachers, healthcare workers and students are allowed to go between New York and Canada for jobs (or education), Watkins noted. A similar arrangement would probably be worked out with Pennsylvania.
Watkins said he had not received any directive from the state Department of Health on the issue, but that could change if Gov. Andrew Cuomo adds Pennsylvania to the quarantine list.
With the increasing COVID-19 rate in Cattaraugus County, bordering counties may want to consider their own quarantines.
Monday’s positivity rate from the rapid testing was 2.99% — 11 positives from 163 tests.
Four of the 11 positives on Monday were healthcare workers — three women and one man — all from the southeast part of the county. Two of the women and the man were in direct contact with a known COVID-19 person. Five others testing positive were direct contacts of a known COVID0-19 person.
All but one of the positive cases Monday were from the southeast part of the county. One positive was recorded in the northwest part of the county, a woman had recently returned from Montana.
Those testing positive included a man and two daughters from the southeast part of the county and a mother and daughter. All had been in contact with a known COVID-19 person.
Of those tested, eight were in direct contact with known COVID-19 persons, including family members and coworkers. Eight had symptoms, while three were asymptomatic.
The county Health Department began contact tracing of the individuals testing positive.
There are currently 301 county residents in quarantine and 35 in precautionary quarantine. More than 37,000 tests have been administered since March. A large number of those are health care workers in nursing homes and extended care facilities, who are tested weekly.
Watkins said any resident experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath or whole body aches should contact their health care provider — avoid going directly to an Urgent Care facility, or hospital emergency room before calling).
In addition, he said wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains a minimum of 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially with unwashed hands. Disinfect commonly touched surfaces with a cleaner that is approved by the EPA against COVID-19.
In an effort to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community, any resident interested in getting tested, can register for a test at www.cattco.org/covid-19-test or call (716) 938-9119 or (716) 938-2265.