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Vaccine Eligibility Expands As County Crosses 8K Cases

Not since the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic did it take Chautauqua County more than 30 days to record 1,000 new confirmed cases. The county on Monday officially crossed the 8,000 mark, with 71 new cases recorded from Friday through Sunday including 21 in Fredonia, nine in Dunkirk and 18 in Jamestown.

The county surpassed the 1,000 case mark in late October 2020, about six months into the pandemic. By early December, the county crossed the 2,000 case mark — and two weeks later, 3,000 confirmed cases were reported.

By Jan. 22 of this year there were 6,000 confirmed cases, at the height of a surge following the holidays in which there were days where more than 100 new cases were being recorded.

The numbers have since slowed after the passing of the holidays and a vaccination effort in which a quarter of the county’s population has received at least one dose.

To date there have been 8,019 confirmed cases, 7,705 recoveries and 141 virus-related deaths in the county. There are currently 173 active cases, nine people with the virus in the hospital, 425 in quarantine and a seven-day positivity rate of 1.6%.

Meanwhile, New York is expanding eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to everyone age 50 and older, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday. The governor said newly eligible people can start signing up for vaccines starting 8 a.m. today.

Currently, everyone age 60 and older can get vaccinated, as well as certain essential workers and people with select health conditions that leave them at-risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Cuomo said the state can expand eligibility because of promises from the federal government that vaccine supplies will keep increasing. It’s unclear how many people are now eligible for vaccines in New York.

“We will have enough vaccine to vaccinate people,” Cuomo said. “We have to make sure we have the capacity and willingness to take the vaccine.”

New York has now provided at least one dose of the vaccine to about one-fourth of its population of 19 million residents. That’s in line with the national average, according to federal data.

Locally, 32,986 residents within Chautauqua County have received at least one dose, representing 25.8% of the population, while 15,619 have completed their vaccination series.

Only one COVID vaccine clinic was posted to the county Health Department’s website, taking place today at Westfield Memorial Hospital. The clinic was already full as of Monday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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