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At-Home Tests Not Incorporated In COVID-19 Dashboard

While more residents are able to learn if they have COVID-19 using at home tests, those results may skew the county’s positivity rate even higher.

Currently only positive home rest results that are self reported to Chautauqua County get included in the daily positive cases. The county’s website states it does not want residents reporting negative tests from at home tests, nor positive tests obtained from a doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, on-site at a school, or any testing site or program operated by the Chautauqua County Health Department. “Results from those tests are reported to us automatically by the lab,” the county website states.

But health officials do want residents who test positive from at home tests to self report on the county’s website.

“At-home COVID-19 tests are a blessing when it comes to quickly identifying COVID-19 in the community and reducing its spread accordingly when those who test positive stay home and isolate themselves,” said Public Health Director Christine Schuyler in an email to this newspaper. “Individuals can notify us of their positive results via a form on our website (chqgov.com) and if official isolation papers are needed, they can also be downloaded along with the individual’s official affirmation of infection/isolation.”

And she recognizes that not everyone who tests positive with an at-home test will necessarily go to the county’s website to report their result. “COVID-19 case data cannot adequately reflect all of the home results as we know that negative results aren’t generally reported at all and only some positive results are reported,” she said.

According to the state Health Department, as of Sunday, Western New York’s positivity rate over the past week was 22.36%, which is slightly higher than the state average of 21.3%.

Schuyler said they will continue to watch for all serious cases. “It is important for us to continue to monitor hospitalizations and hospital capacity, reports of severe illness, and deaths as well as remain vigilant to social mitigation strategies of masking, hand washing, social distancing and staying home when ill,” she said, adding that the number one strategy to fight COVID-19 is still vaccination and boosters.

The village of Falconer announced it has a limited number of COVID-19 test kits and masks for distribution to village residents. Interested residents can pick up test kits and masks in the village Community Building lobby today, Jan. 11, from 5-6 p.m. This will be on a first come, first serve basis. Proof of residency is required.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday that SUNY Fredonia will be serving as a campus-based testing site starting later this week. It was one of 10 campuses added.

“We are not defenseless as we fight the winter surge: vaccines, boosters and testing can help us slow the spread and protect our loved ones,” Hochul said in a news release. “These new SUNY sites build on our ongoing efforts to make testing more available as part of our Winter Surge Plan, and will be part of more than 2,000 locations statewide where New Yorkers can easily get tested for COVID-19. We are utilizing every possible state resource to keep New Yorkers safe and protect our fragile health care system.”

The SUNY Fredonia site will open and provide appointment-based and walk-in COVID-19 testing Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jewett Hall starting on Thursday.

The site will maintain capacity for approximately 225 appointments per day and up to 50 walk-ins. Appointments can be scheduled at this location: https://app.squarespacescheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=24841628&calendarID=6401772

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