An 87-year-old woman is the latest COVID-19 death in Cattaraugus County.
It was the 97th death of a county resident from the coronavirus since the pandemic began 13 months ago. The woman developed respiratory failure due to the virus.
There were also 21 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed on Tuesday, representing a positivity rate of 5.7%. The seven-day rolling average was 2.8% and the 14-day average was 3.5%.
The 21 new cases in Cattaraugus County included 12 women, who now total 2,838 of the 5,307 cases in the county. Men were nine of the new cases. They now total 2,469 cases.
Thirteen of the cases were from the northeast part of the county where there have now been now 986 cases.
The southeast part of the county had four new cases. There have now been 2,869 cases there. The southwest also had four new cases for a total of 821. There were no new cases from the northwest part of the county where there have now been 627 cases.
The county health department is also following 171 active COVID-19 cases and 623 in contact quarantine. There are 20 residents hospitalized with COVID-19.
Cattaraugus County’s public health director, Dr. Kevin D. Watkins, was disappointed with the number of people who had appointments for Tuesday’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Jamestown Community College in Olean. Only about 100 people with appointments came for their first shot. The rest of this week’s vaccine clinics are for a second shot.
That is in sharp contrast to even several weeks ago when demand for doses of vaccine far outstripped the supply.
Nonetheless, Watkins has placed an order for all three vaccines next week.
The Pfizer vaccine now authorized for ages 16 and up, Watkins plans to offer the vaccine in schools to vaccinate those students ages 16 and 17.
He said about 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be available for eligible students. The early survey showed about 400 students with parental permission would be vaccinated. That number could rise.
Watkins plans to reach out to schools with an offer to vaccinate eligible students with parental permission.
The public health director plans to vaccinate additional homebound individuals with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. St. Bonaventure University had scheduled a vaccine clinic when the pause was placed on the J&J vaccine over reports of very rare blood clots — mostly in women.
Watkins said he plans to meet with university officials on Monday to discuss whether they want to reschedule the on-campus clinic. In any event, he said students would be welcome to take part in upcoming county clinics.
Watkins said county residents should be aware that the vaccines in use are both very safe and effective.
To overcome the hesitancy of some people to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated, Watkins suggested they speak with their doctor or call the health department
“This is the answer to mitigating the spread of this virus,” Watkins said. “It really shows a reduction in the death rate.”
Watkins said he agreed with the Centers for Disease Control recommendations Tuesday saying people who are vaccinated can relax their wearing of masks outdoors — if they keep socially distant and do not congregate in large groups. Mask-wearing should continue indoors, he added.
“It’s just sad to see we have this vaccine supply available and residents are not taking advantage of it,” Watkins said.
“We’re talking with employers about going onsite to vaccinate workers and going to churches, even the Home Show,” Watkins said.
To date, there are 20,319 county residents who have completed their vaccine series, Watkins said. There are also 27,750 people, or 33.5% of the population who have at least one vaccine dose.
To register for a free COVID-19 diagnostic test through the county health department, go online to: https://data.enchantedmountains.net/form/cattaraugus-county-covid-19-diagnostic-testing-registration-10
Vaccination registration and appointments for people age 18 and older can be made through the county’s website: www.cattco.org/covid-vacc-info or through the county’s Vaccine Hotline at (716) 701-3777.