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County COVID Count Drops

Just over 300 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Chautauqua County during the month of May — the lowest monthly total since September of last year, the county Health Department noted Monday.

“The decline in cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations is something to celebrate and a testament to all who have gotten vaccinated and stayed strong and smart over the last 15 months,” said Christine Schuyler, county public health director. “This is an encouraging trend which should continue with more and more people getting vaccinated.”

In May, 308 cases of COVID-19 were reported, the lowest since September 2020. The highest number of cases reported per month was 3,029 in January 2021.

In its latest statistics, the health department recorded just eight new cases — from information collected Friday through Sunday — in addition to 21 active cases, four people with the virus in local hospitals and 60 people in quarantine. To date there have been 9,269 total confirmed cases, 9,093 recoveries and 155 virus-related deaths.

Regarding vaccinations, 51,618 residents in the county have completed their series, meaning they have either received the one-dose shot or both of the two-dose shots. Further, 59,286 residents — or about 55.8% of adults in the county — have received at least one dose to date.

Schuyler believes the vaccination rates are likely higher locally because only the vaccinations given in New York state are in the state’s electronic system.

“Because of our proximity to Pennsylvania and the large number of people who travel south for the winter, we know that a lot of folks have been vaccinated outside of New York state,” Schuyler said. “These vaccination records are not shared between states, nor are the records of vaccinations given through the VA health care system. Entering the vaccination information into the state’s system enables state residents to get an Excelsior Pass and also helps us better gauge our vaccination rate.”

Health officials ask those vaccinated against COVID-19 in a state other than New York or by the federal VA health care system to provide the information to a primary care provider for upload into the New York State Immunization Information System. Individuals also can call 1-866-604-6789 and leave a message, or email CCHEALTH@chqgov.com; in the email, include a picture of a completed vaccination card, along with address, phone number and mother’s maiden name.

In Cattaraugus County, there have been 5,715 confirmed cases as well as 5,587 recoveries and 105 deaths. As for vaccinations, 31,345 have received at least one shot while 27,037 have completed their series.

STATE LOOKS TO LIFT MORE VIRUS RULES

New York will lift more COVID-19 rules once 70% of adults have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, a target that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he hoped his state could reach in days.

And the Empire State building will light up in blue and gold once New York hits the threshold, Cuomo said.

About 68.7% of New York adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest federal data.

A smaller percentage of New York’s overall 20 million residents have received at least one dose: so far, 56% — or 11 million residents. New York administered 483,000 doses in the seven days through Saturday, down from nearly 619,000 over the previous week.

Cuomo said even when New York reaches the 70% target, COVID-19 rules will still apply in certain settings like large-scale event venues, pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings.

Unvaccinated people will still have to wear masks and stay six feet (about 1.8 meters) from others on subways and buses, for example.

But Cuomo said the state would lift any remaining health screening, contact tracing and cleaning and disinfection rules elsewhere in New York.

Last month, Cuomo said businesses in New York would no longer have to limit the number of people allowed inside based on a percentage of their typical capacity.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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