Cattaraugus County Declares State Of Emergency, Schools Ordered To Close

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LITTLE VALLEY – The Cattaraugus County Office of Emergency Serivces has declared a state of emergency as the Coronavirus pandemic continues.

Legislature Chairman Howard VanRensselaer says the declaration gives officials the authority to procure proper goods and services. Travel within the county is not impacted.

Cattaraugus County officials stress there remain zero positive cases of this virus identified in Cattaraugus County. However as three positive cases have been identified in Erie County, it is imperative to err on the side of caution through support of social-distancing measures as we learn how this virus reacts.

This is not a time for fear and panic but rather planning and precaution. To implement a measure to limit community transmission, the Public Health Director Dr. Kevin Watkins met with numerous Cattaraugus County school superintendents on March 13, 2020, to discuss issues related to the 2019-novel Coronavirus and the possibility of an extended dismissal of students. Governor Cuomo, through his executive order of March 13, 2020, placed authority for school dismissal at the local level, making a county level state of emergency necessary to support the dismissal of Cattaraugus County schools.

“Any school district which decides to close pursuant to the local state of emergency declaration must first consult with Cattaraugus County health department and also exhaust any available time including snow days and vacation days,” officials say. “Cattaraugus County Health officials recommend schools in Cattaraugus County dismiss students as part of a community intervention for social distancing.”

Furthermore, officials say there are no known cases of the virus within the county.

Randolph Central School says the district will be closed to students on Wednesday.

“Our district and all programs will be closed to students on Monday, March 16,” the school said in a statement. “This closure will allow our instructional team and other staff members to train and finalize educational plans for students.”

“Students should report for a regularly scheduled day on Tuesday, March 17. On this day, they will receive instruction for study, tools, and supplies for the duration of the closure. Students who attend a CTE program at a CA BOCES center or other out of district placements will also receive instruction for their respective program. Parents will receive a copy of all instructions for their students.”

The district says the closure is expected for the foreseeable future. Meals for students who require them during the closure.

In Chautauqua County, two people have been placed in a precautionary quarantine.

Christine Schuyler, the director of Health and Human Services, says the virus most impacts those age 65 or older; those with underlying health conditions such as heart, lung, kidney, neurologic, or liver disease or diabetes; those with compromised immune systems or who are pregnant. 

Schuyler says anyone in these high risk categories should be extra vigilant about respiratory, hand hygiene and avoid gatherings of ten people or more.

If you are ill stay home and avoid others.

If you have a fever and worsening symptoms of respiratory illness such cough and difficulty breathing, Schuyler says call your healthcare provider for advisement.

Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel will update the public on the virus during a press conference on Sunday at 4 p.m. We will provide live coverage.


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