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2 New Cases Of Virus Reported In County

Two new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed locally, the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services announced. The total is now at 21.

County health officials said the new cases include a man and woman, both in their 40s. As of Wednesday afternoon, 108 county residents remain either in quarantine or isolation under orders by Christine Schuyler, public health director.

“Not all of those being monitored are confirmed to have COVID-19 but have either shown symptoms, are awaiting results or have risk factors,” Schuyler said.

There remains 11 active cases — those who continue to recover from the virus, as well as 229 tests that have come back negative.

To date, the bulk of confirmed cases involve residents who live in the north county (13), with three confirmed cases in the eastern part of the county; five in the south county; and none confirmed in the western part, though health officials said the virus is circulating throughout the county.

Eight people have fully recovered from the COVID-19 virus, while two deaths have been reported.

Schuyler said daily updates of the virus can be obtained by calling 1-866-604-6789, option No. 6.

“We are offering you one more way to access daily updated COVID-19 statistics,” she said. “The numbers will be updated by 5 p.m. daily.”

TESTING RATE

Chautauqua County has the lowest testing rate in the state for COVID-19, according to a recent Empire Center for New York State Policy analysis.

The research, summarized in a blog post Tuesday by Bill Hammond, Empire Center director of health policy, found that downstate New Yorkers are three times more likely to have been tested for COVID-19 and four times more likely to have been positive for the virus.

The rate of testing upstate, at about 7 people tested per thousand residents, is one-third of the rate downstate. The share of upstate tests that come back positive, at 11 percent, is a quarter of the downstate share, which is 45 percent.

The counties with the highest testing rates were Westchester, at 47 per thousand, Rockland, 39, and Orange, 26. The counties with the lowest rates were Chautauqua at 2 per thousand, and Niagara and Essex at 3.

Chautauqua County Health Department officials have said consistently that testing supplies and personal protective equipment are in low supply across the state and especially in rural areas where population density is low. Testing in Chautauqua County is prioritized for patients who are likely to require hospitalization, health care workers who become ill or those with underlying health care conditions.

That lack of testing may be changing, however. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said the state is investing in private companies to bring rapid COVID-19 testing to scale and to accelerate testing capacity. The state Health Department has developed a test to detect antibodies to the COVID-19 infection in an individual’s blood, something Cuomo said is an important step to determine if New Yorkers are developing immunity and when they could potentially return to work or school.

New York has a population of 19 million people and a testing capacity of roughly 50,000.

“But you have to have that testing and you have to have that testing on a scale,” Cuomo said. “You have 19 million people in the state of New York. Just think of how many people you would need to be able to test and test quickly. The anti-body testing is part of that. Also, rapid testing to determine whether or not you have the virus now exists. They have ’15 minute’ tests that are commercially available. But again, they have to be brought to scale.”

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