Cattaraugus County residents have yet to register any positive COVID-19 coronavirus test, Public Health Director Dr. Kevin Watkins said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Cattaraugus became the only county in Western New York without a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus as Chautauqua County posted two positive results.

“We have five more negative test results today,” Watkins said. “We are the only Western New York county with no confirmed cases.” There are only nine counties now without a confirmed case of COVID-19.

There are 95 people in quarantine in the county, Watkins said, with 76 under mandatory quarantine and 19 under precautionary quarantine.

Although the county has not recorded any positive coronavirus cases, Watkins is sure it is out there.

“The prevalence of the virus in our community is still considered low,” Watkins said. “We highly suspect it is in the area. We are very concerned due to the proximity of the virus in surrounding counties. Erie and Wyoming counties reported their first deaths.”

Watkins said the dire situation occurring downstate with COVID-19 cases and 200 deaths, has local officials concerned over what a surge in cases would look like here. “We are doing everything we can.”

Olean General Hospital is moving to increase its bed capacity by 75 beds. Other sites are also being sought, he said.

As soon as sample kits come in, the county health department plans to ramp up a mobile drive-through testing site.

“We plan to do a lot more testing in the community,” said Watkins, who has been frustrated with the lack of testing.

Medical personnel and first responders would be tested first. Residents traveling from countries or communities with widespread COVID-19 would also be among the first to be tested. That includes people coming from New York City and others who medical providers feel need to be tested.

“I’m really concerned about (people coming from) New York City,” Watkins said. “Travelers from New York City should really consider isolating for 14 days.”

Watkins emphasized how important it is for area residents who do not have to travel to stay in their homes.

“I’m pretty confident the virus exists here,” he said. “You do not die from coronavirus; you die from complications.”


No one who currently has Medicaid coverage will lose their coverage during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cattaraugus County Social Services officials said Wednesday.

“If you get a notice telling you that your Medicaid is discontinued after March 18, 2020, your coverage will be reinstated so there is no gap in coverage,” the statement said to Medicaid recipients. “There is no need to come to the Department of Social Services due to such a notice.”

Anyone with questions is urged to contact the Department of Social Services at 373-8065.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)