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5 Have Recovered From Virus In County; 13 Total Cases

MAYVILLE — Five people confirmed to have had the coronavirus have “fully recovered” in Chautauqua County. That was the positive news shared Friday by County Executive PJ Wendel during a press conference in Mayville.

“It’s a pretty good statistic to show,” Wendel said of the recoveries when highlighting the county’s new online portal unveiled this week that is updated daily to list the number of cases within four battalions.

One new positive case of COVID-19 was announced during the press conference — a male in his 30s. That brings the total number of cases in the county to 13. In addition, the county executive said 17 people were in mandatory quarantine; 19 were in precautionary quarantine; and 76 were in mandatory isolation.

To date, 160 tests for the virus have come back negative.

Christine Schuyler, county director of health and human services, said despite some areas in the county that show no or few cases that the virus was indeed within the community.

“To be clear, COVID-19 is circulating in Chautauqua County,” she said. “Just because you didn’t visit a particular location does not mean that you have not been exposed.”

She alluded to the social media term “going viral” in relation to the spread of the virus.

“That is exactly what the novel coronavirus is doing,” Schuyler said. “It is viral. Viral means it is spreading everywhere. The best thing all of us can do is to be very mindful of that and take the community mitigating strategies to heart that we have been going over and over. This is very serious, but at the same time this is something that we’re going to get through, and we’re going to get through it together. And I guarantee you it is going to get better, and we’re not going to give up until it does.”

Schuyler said with nice weather in the forecast, county residents should try to get outside and get some fresh air while also practicing social distancing.

Dr. Robert Berke, county physician, also touched base on which masks area residents should consider, noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking to recommend use of masks for the public. He said the N95 mask should only be worn by medical professionals, not the public.

“It is only for medical personnel and people who are first responders” Berke said. “It should not be worn by anybody else. These are in extremely short supply.”

Face shields being produced by a Brocton company — Jamestown Plastics — are also only to be used by first responders, noting that they too are in short supply.

Instead, Berke said local residents should consider using homemade masks. “This is what you should be using,” he said, noting that homemade masks limit coughs and sneezes from being projected toward others.

Wendel said, in regards to a possible surge of cases due to the close proximity to Erie County, plans have been prepared as required by the state. He noted that annually, hospitals are required to hold drills implementing the plans should a spike in hospital admissions arrive.

“Those plans are ready, and they will be enacted if needed,” Wendel said.

Schuyler said the surge plans now include increasing bed capacity by 50%, a directive handed down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“There is a laundry list of items that have to be submitted to the state Health Department,” Schuyler said, stating that officials are “hoping and praying” that the region doesn’t see the spike in virus cases that some areas have seen, especially New York City.

When it comes to ventilators, Cuomo on Friday said he planned to sign an executive order that would require some of the machines at facilities across the state to be sent to areas such as New York City to help with the influx of critically ill patients.

Schuyler said there are 46 ventilators at all county facilities, including bedside models that help patients breathe as well as ones specific for adults and children. She said, as far as she knew, none were scheduled to be sent to New York City.

Wendel said he was in contact with state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, about the state borrowing ventilators. He said he opposed the plan.

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