MAYVILLE – Local health officials fear the number of new COVID-19 infections might be skewed by the lack of reporting at-home tests. That’s why they say it is important for county residents to self-report their diagnosis if they test positive for Coronavirus.
The Chautauqua County Board of Health discussed the issue during Thursday night’s virtual meeting.
“This week we reported 1,743 new cases over 7 days, which is an average of 249 cases per day. That’s a slight decrease from last week when we saw about 265 cases per day,” says Agett. “Considering of course that many people are using rapid tests now, and if those tests aren’t reported to our department, we don’t have a handle on the numbers in the community. So this is a low estimate of the number of cases that we saw in our community last week.”
Epidemiologist Breeanne Agett led the conversation about the underreporting of COVID-19 positives countywide, saying because of increased workloads “contract tracing” is no longer taking place except for at-risk groups, like those under 18 and over 70. That’s why she says personal responsibility is key.
“Stay home if you test positive. Notify your close-contacts and they should be quarantining,” says Agett. “Anybody who does complete a home test or just needs documentation for work is welcome to go to our website chqgov.com and we have isolation and quarantine documents where you can fill in the dates that you were either symptomatic or tested positive. Then you can calculate out the number of isolation days that are necessary.”
The group of health officials are working on a new way to determine how prevalent COVID-19 is countywide; as Director of Environmental Health Bill Boria explains.
“We are starting up a waste water monitoring program that is going to give us a real good general indication of what COVID is doing in our communities,” boasts Boria. “Is it increasing, is it decreasing, is it staying the same? So that’s gonna give us, I think a good measure of what’s happening regardless of who’s testing, who isn’t testing.”
The program, officials say, simply requires residents to use the restroom. Data collected from waste water will then show how prevalent COVID-19 is in the community.