OLEAN – Cattaraugus County is seeing an increase in COVID-19 related deaths, which the county’s health director says could be a snowballing problem.
Dr. Kevin Watkins says compared to New York State’s death rate the county’s 4% rate is a startling uptick. He says on average there has been a death every week for the past month.
All of the ten people who passed away in the last month were hospitalized, which Watkins explains is because they had severe cases of the virus.
“They have had an underlying illness prior to contracting the virus and often times the virus will exacerbate those conditions,” explained Watkins. “They have diabetes, often times once they are admitted to the hospital the diabetes can be uncontrolled, the inflammatory process that occurs when this virus is contracted is so overwhelming for the body that it can really start to shutdown the functions of vital organs.”
Currently Watkins says eight people are hospitalized because of the virus.
He says even though the FDA recently approved Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 the drug, and similar steroids, don’t specifically mean success.
Watkins recommends anyone with underlying conditions, like diabetes, to take precautions like wearing face masks, social distancing and washing hands.
On Thursday the Health Department reported the 16th COVID-19 related death of a 52-year-old man.
The county currently has 71 active cases, with 300 of the 387-total recovered.