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County Has Largest Single Day Infections

Chautauqua County recorded the largest single-day increase of COVID-19 infections in the county since a global pandemic was declared in March on Friday.

The county Health Department reported 266 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, according to numbers released on Friday afternoon.

There are now 722 active cases in the county — another high. Hospitalizations, meanwhile, decreased by one over the last day to 42. Over 2,000 are now in quarantine.

The county reported 82 new cases in Jamestown, 57 in Dunkirk, 27 in Fredonia and 10 each in Silver Creek and Frewsburg. Jamestown now has 213 active cases and Dunkirk now has 147 active cases.

The county noted that duplicate tests reported on Jan. 6 and 7 were removed.

Faced with mounting criticism over the slow pace of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that New York would allow a much wider swath of the public to get inoculated, including anyone age 75 or older starting next week.

The governor warned that, initially, the supply of vaccines available to people other than health care workers and nursing home patients would be very limited.

Cuomo said a beefed up statewide distribution network will include pharmacies, doctors’ networks and county health departments. The 3.2 million New Yorkers newly eligible for the vaccine includes teachers, first responders and public safety workers.

“Caution, caution, caution, because the supply is a major problem,” Cuomo said at his regular briefing. “You’ll wind up having 3,000 distribution points in a couple of weeks, but none of them will have nearly enough vaccine.”

Chautauqua County public health director Christine Schuyler also released information from the county’s health department on Friday.

“I fully understand, appreciate and applaud the public’s eagerness to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” she said in a release. “However, the supply of vaccine is limited and all vaccine providers must follow New York State’s phased distribution plan based on need and risk.”

Schuyler said that the county received its first shipment of 200 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from NYS on Jan. 5. That shipment, in combination with vaccine redistributed from the hospitals allowed the department to conduct a successful point of distribution for those in Phase 1A on Jan. 6 with another larger POD scheduled for Jan. 9. Health Department staff is also actively working with the administration of The Resource Center and NYS OPWDD to begin vaccinating its priority populations next week, the department said.

It is anticipated that further phases will include adults with underlying health conditions, those over age 65, and then move to the general population, the department said.

“As one can imagine, it will take considerable time to get enough vaccine to vaccinate such large numbers of people,” said Schuyler. “Local governments, including health departments, have no ability to stray from the state’s phased distribution plan.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the state government Friday for keeping New York City from immediately vaccinating people older than 75 against the coronavirus, saying the city had 270,000 doses that could be quickly administered.

“The state of New York will not allow us to vaccinate them. This is really dangerous if we can’t vaccinate the people who are most in danger. We’re going to lose lives we did not need to lose. Let’s change that now,” de Blasio said at his regular briefing.

Cuomo had been insisting on focusing on the state’s front-line health care workers as cases and hospitalizations surge this winter.

Cattaraugus County, meanwhile, reported 77 new cases Thursday and has 38 people hospitalized. New data had yet to be released as of press time.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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