A 10th Cattaraugus County resident has died from COVID-19 — the third reported death this week — the county’s public health director reported Wednesday.
Dr. Kevin D. Watkins said the latest resident to die due to COVID-19 was a 97-year-old man who developed heart failure in the hospital.
Seven new positive test results for COVID-19 among residents were also reported to members of the Board of Health meeting, held via Zoom video conference out of concern for the coronavirus.
The new cases involved three men and two women from the southeast corner of the county, one woman from the southwest part of the county and another woman from the northeast.
Watkins said both the number of cases and deaths “are going in the wrong direction,” despite a positive rate of less than 1% out of 33,500 tests. One day last week the county recorded a record 14 positive COVID-19 test results, he said.
Watkins said 60 of the total positive tests were healthcare workers, 104 were asymptomatic and nine were contacts of someone testing positive for COVID-19.
County residents ranging in age from 4 to 97 contracted the coronavirus. Eighty-seven people were between the age of 20 and 39 and 72 residents were in the 60-69 age group.
The county Health Department has received three rapid testing devices, but is restricted to the number of test kits received from the state, Watkins said. The county is still trying to find additional test kits which give results in 20 minutes, he said.
Watkins described “clusters” of COVID-19 in two area healthcare facilities he did not identify. Two healthcare workers at one facility and a staff member and resident have tested positive at another, he said. “I’m pretty confident they are under control at this time,” he told the board.
“I’m very concerned about the number of deaths,” Watkins said. “It’s a very difficult virus to overcome.” Many people who come into an emergency room have severe inflammation of lungs and other organs associated with COVID-19.
Watkins said a student and a staff member at the Olean City School District had tested positive for the virus, prompting remote-only instruction for a week. There have also been four college students — three at St. Bonaventure University and one at the Olean Campus of Jamestown Community College.
With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, Watkins said the health Department has started its annual influenza vaccination program on a pre-registration basis. Residents can register online or by calling the Health Department.
The influenza vaccine is recommended for residents from infants 6 months old. A stronger vaccine is recommended for residents over age 60, but since it is in short supply, local health officials are using the regular dose.