MAYVILLE – One of Chautauqua County’s top health officials says increased rates of COVID-19 infection are likely as we progress through reopening.
Chautauqua County Public Health Director Christine Schuyler, speaking during a Tuesday morning press conference in Mayville, told reporters through antibody testing her staff has learned the virus is not as prevalent in county residents as originally thought.
“So far, I can tell you we are only seeing a two to three percent positive rate in the antibody tests,” explained Schuyler. “While there is not anything scientific to this yet, we really don’t have enough data to say that, but, to have that many people not showing antibodies makes us think that COVID-19 has not been widely spread in our area, so another reason why we think we will probably see increased rates of infection once we open up.”
She continues to stress that residents who are sick should stay home and call their doctor to get a telemedicine exam.
Furthermore, Schuyler advises those who have pre-existing conditions to stay home as much as possible and take extra precautions when out in the community.
“Those people who are over the age of sixty, or who have underlying health conditions including such common things as hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, asthma, obesity, are at higher risk of complications of COVID-19,” said Schuyler. “We have to do the best we can to protect those venerable populations.”
She also urges citizens not to judge those who may not be wearing a mask as they could have a pre-existing health condition that prevents them from wearing one.
Schuyler says one of the easiest ways to protect those most at risk for COVID-19 is by wearing a cloth face mask when unable to maintain the six feet social distancing regulation.
New York State’s order mandating people wear a mask in public when social distancing isn’t possible gives an exemption to those who can’t medically tolerate a mask.
Schuyler says a surge in cases over this past weekend is due to people gathering “prematurely.” She is encouraging citizens to “be smart” about how they act during the reopening.