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Third County Resident Tests Positive For Virus

A third person has tested positive for the coronavirus in Chautauqua County.

Christine Schuyler, county director of health and human services, said the individual lives in the Ashville area and recently traveled to New York City.

“It is very likely that our county we will have more confirmed cases,” Schuyler said in the county’s daily coronavirus update “Our goal is to identify new cases quickly and prevent or limit secondary exposures to ensure public health and safety.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, 14 people in the county were in mandatory quarantine; nine were in precautionary quarantine; and 40 were in mandatory isolation.

County health officials on Monday announced the first two cases of the virus, a Dunkirk woman and a Silver Creek man both in their 30s. Both had recently traveled to Buffalo, but none have required hospitalization.

Schuyler said public health nurses are continuing their intensive epidemiological investigations to identify the close contacts of those with confirmed cases of COVID-19. She said officials are aware that some county residents are concerned about seasonal residents, most of whom own homes/property, returning from areas outside of the county during the pandemic. The County’s COVID-19 Response Team, Schuyler said, is working collaboratively with seasonal communities such as the Chautauqua Institution, Lily Dale and campgrounds to ensure precautionary messages are shared with residents.

“At this point, it’s not about the actual travel by car or where people are coming from. What really matters is what people do when they arrive and how we interact,” Schuyler said. “The guidance for social distancing and hygiene are the same for Chautauqua County residents whether they live here year-round or seasonally. When everyone adheres to these commonsense pandemic rules, we slow and limit community spread of illness.”

TAKING PRECAUTIONS

Jamestown resident Chuck Hall said he isn’t taking any chances when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

While running errands Tuesday morning in downtown Jamestown, Hall wore a white face mask, a hard-to-come-by item he received while volunteering with the Salvation Army.

“I’m trying to protect myself,” Hall said. “I’m doing whatever I can to protect myself from getting it.”

The city resident said he is pleased with the response he has seen from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been holding daily briefings for updates on the virus. However, Hall was critical of the federal government, which he said was delayed in its response to handling the virus and rounding up resources and issuing guidance.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get the head start on it that we could have and should have and everything else, and that comes from the top,” Hall said. “We’re behind the eight ball and we’re trying to play catch up. The governors are doing a fantastic job in New York, in Washington, Illinois, North Carolina, you name it. They’re doing a great job, and we’re getting nothing but baloney from up high — why we don’t evoke the federal Defense Production Act. It’s just crazy, and to suggest we’re going to restart the economy is just asinine.”

INFECTION RATE ACCELERATING

Cuomo sounded his most dire warning yet about the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, saying the infection rate in New York City is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from a crisis that sees 40,000 people in intensive care.

Such a surge would overwhelm hospitals, which now have just 3,000 intensive care unit beds statewide.

The rate of new infections, Cuomo said, is doubling about every three days. While officials once projected the peak in New York would come in early May, they now say it could come in two to three weeks.

“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” he said during a briefing at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. “One of the forecasters said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

New York officials have been racing to essentially double their hospital capacity to up to 110,000 beds. Cuomo now said there could be a peak need of 140,000 beds.

There were more than 25,000 positive cases in New York state and at least 210 deaths, according to state figures. Most of the cases and deaths have been in New York City, an emerging worldwide hotspot in the outbreak.

New York officials are planning to add at least 1,000 temporary hospital beds at the Javits Center for non-COVID-19 patients and thousands of beds elsewhere. But Cuomo said “they’re nowhere near” the number that will be needed. The state also faces shortages of ventilators and protective equipment for medical workers.

New York has 7,000 ventilators. Cuomo called for a national push to send ventilators to New York now, saying the city needs 20,000 of them in a matter of weeks. He said the equipment could then be redeployed to different areas once the peak passes in New York.

“I will take personal responsibility for transporting the 20,000 ventilators anywhere in this country that they want, once we are passed our apex,” Cuomo said. “But don’t leave them sitting in a stockpile.”

Peter Pitts, a former associate commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration and president of the New York-based Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, said that ventilators — about the size of two old VCR machines — are certainly portable. But he said there would need to be a regional or national coordinator of medical products “to make sure that the goods needed are where they need to be.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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