A second wave of coronavirus is hitting Cattaraugus County as an 11th COVID-19 death was recorded Friday and 11 new residents tested positive, pushing the total to 300.
“We are experiencing the second wave of COVID-19,” said Dr. Kevin D. Watkins, the county’s public health director. “The first wave was pretty mild. This is penetrating our community. It seems there are a lot (of positives) in our healthcare community.”
Two school districts, Portville and Pioneer, were closed on Friday and held all remote learning due to positive tests for COVID-19. Both are planning to reopen on Tuesday. A staff member at Portville tested positive and two at Pioneer.
On Sunday, Olean City School District shut down in-school learning Monday through Wednesday after an employee at Washington West Elementary and a high school student tested positive for COVID-19. Classes in the district’s schools resumed for Thursday and Friday.
More than 60 healthcare workers in the county have tested positive for COVID-19, Watkins said. It’s difficult to say why, he said — more than one-fifth of the cononavirus cases in the county have been among healthcare workers.
Weekly testing of healthcare workers in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has found most of the cases, with many of the workers being asymptomatic. Another one tested positive on Friday.
“We can’t pinpoint one thing or cluster” responsible for the recent rise in local COVID-19 positive tests, Watkins said. “It all goes to our going back to school, houses of worship and restaurants.”
In addition, there are more people congregating without masks or social distancing, Watkins said. This is partly responsible for the increased cases in the county.
“We are going to have to double down and go back to doing things the way we were when this first came out in March and April,” he said.
“It’s really getting quite concerning,” Watkins said, noting there have been four deaths this week alone. There were 18 positive COVID-19 tests reported on Thursday.
“It’s not easy to pinpoint a source,” he said. “They are scattered all over. It includes whole families.”
Watkins urged residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by always wearing a mask in public, keeping a social distance and washing hands frequently.
Watkins said the 11th county resident to succumb to COVID-19 was a 71-year-old woman who experienced respiratory failure and was unable to overcome her illness despite aggressive treatment. He expressed condolences to her family.
The 11 positive COVID-19 tests received on Friday included six women and two men from the southeast part of the county, which includes the Olean area, a husband and wife from the northwest and one woman from the northeast.
Of the 11 individuals, five women were asymptomatic and three were symptomatic. Also, two of the men had symptoms and one was asymptomatic.
The department’s active positive COVID-19 caseload is now 66 as there are 223 residents who have recovered from COVID-19.
The department has begun a thorough contact tracing investigation for those individuals that they have been in contact with and the places that they have visited.
Any resident who experiences a fever, cough, shortness of breath or whole body aches should contact their health care provider.
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 938-9119 or 938-2265.