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‘Peace Of Mind’

Officials Encourage Residents To Get Tested For COVID

P-J photo by Cameron Hurst

As Chautauqua County continues to battle COVID-19, officials are encouraging residents to get tested for the virus — including New York’s lieutenant governor.

Kathy Hochul visited Mayville on Tuesday to meet with interim County Executive PJ Wendel and public health director Christine Schuyler. The county currently has 155 active cases after back-to-back weeks of high positive tests from Tanglewood Manor.

“I wanted to commend the health department here in Chautauqua County for the extraordinary work that they’re doing to ensure that public health is protected and to make sure that we have the tests conducted and I’m encouraging members of the public to make that appointment,” Hochul said.

She added, “It’s not hard. I just had one done yesterday. It is not painful. It’s just a few seconds of your time to have that assurance to know that if you interact with your co-workers, family members that you are safe and that you have tested negative.”

Getting tested, she noted, will benefit those who are hoping to visit loved ones in a nursing home or a hospital and confidently attend gathers.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is pictured this week with interim County Executive PJ Wendel and Christine Schuyler, county public health director.

“You want to make sure you’re safe and so we’re encouraging everyone,” she said. “Don’t wait until you have symptoms. There is a lot of peace of mind knowing that you are testing negative.”

Wendel was appreciative of Hochul’s visit and encouraged the public to utilize the testing center, located at Vista Drive with additional sites opening up on Brigham Road in Dunkirk and Harrison Street in Jamestown.

“It was a great conversation today and great dialogue today with the lieutenant governor,” he said. “The urgency is that we need to have people tested to prove that our numbers are low.”

Schuyler was also pleased with the lieutenant governor’s visit, saying she “felt heard.”

“That’s the first time as a public health official that I have felt heard and that we have felt that the governor’s chambers are reaching out to who really are the front-line workers for eight months now, day-in and day-out without a break 24/7 and that is your local health departments,” she said.

“The lieutenant governor recognizes more clearly how hard local health departments across the state and even the state health department is working and that we can’t be forgotten when you talk about the front-line health care workers and hospitals and emergency rooms and nursing homes who are phenomenal that are doing excellent hard work every day,” she added. “Public health has not had a break from this since the end of February.”

Wendel said he has “felt heard” throughout the entire pandemic response given his position on the Western New York Regional Control Room, of which Hochul captains.

“From the very first night before the state of emergency she called me at home and I’ve always had an open dialogue with her so I feel very confident that we’re heard,” he said. “We did voice some concerns, some things that have happened here, the current situation and I do believe we are being heard. With that being said, this is a case of we listen to one another, we work well in our control room and I think it’s indicative. The lieutenant governor gets that information back and makes sure that our voices are heard.”

Wendel also credited the local health department’s work throughout.

“Without our health department, we’d be in a very different situation from the very beginning,” he said. “Everyone who works in our county Health Department has been phenomenal in this instrumental role and we need to keep up the work.”

That work continues, meanwhile, as 24 of the county’s 32 new cases on Tuesday were related to the Tanglewood Group facilities on Fairmount Avenue.

Hochul said on Tuesday she is confident in the county’s plan — more residents getting tested is a key element of that.

“What we’re hearing is that they have a strategy in place,” she said. “It’s working. But we need more people to be tested. That’s why I wanted to come out here and let people know that you don’t even have to get out of your car. You make an appointment, you show up, you take 30 seconds of your life to get that result that it’s going to give you again that peace of mind that you can interact with your family and friends in a safe way.”

“I just wanted to reassure the lieutenant governor that we do have a cluster, we are looking at that and we’re monitoring that from the very beginning,” Wendel said. “You look at how we progressed with Fieldbrook, Fredonia and now Tanglewood. We’re on this and I feel we’ve aggressively pursued the matter and control the situation to make sure the spread is not out in the community.”

Testing next week will take place at the Jamestown Fire Training Grounds at 240 Harrison Street and at the Dunkirk Fire Training Grounds at 665 Brigham Road on Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by visiting the state Health Department’s website at health.ny.gov.

8 NEW CASES

The Chautauqua County Department of Health reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday in addition to 155 total active cases. The cases break down as follows: one in Jamestown, five in Dunkirk, one in Silver Creek and one in Irving.

The county Health Department on Tuesday reported 32 new cases, of which 24 were tied to Tanglewood Manor and Memory Garden in West Ellicott. Testing took place earlier this week at the direction of the New York State Department of Health and involved those who previously tested negative following an outbreak at the adult-care facilities.

There are currently 12 active cases among employees and 78 active cases among residents associated with Tanglewood Manor; 14 people associated with the outbreak at Tanglewood have recovered.

To date, 18 people remain hospitalized in addition to 744 recoveries, 13 deaths and 912 total confirmed cases.

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