COVID-19 Cases Trend Downward In Chautauqua County

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MAYVILLE – Though it is still cold outside, it appears the winter COVID-19 surge may be coming to an end locally as cases continue to trend downward. 

“There is an abundance of various rapid home tests right now, and because of that, we know there are people out there utilizing them. And we’re glad they are, but they’re not reporting the results to us,” says Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Health Director. “And I don’t think we’re unique in that aspect, I think that’s happening everywhere. We’re going to continue to see that because of the availability of home tests.”

The Health Director says that this lack of data affects important statistics like active cases and positivity rates.

“At all levels, meaning federal, state, and local, we’re empowered to really transition into a different way of disease surveillance. I would assume it’s more along the lines of what we’re used to doing for other reportable diseases,” explains Schuyler. “We really need to stay on top of what we’re seeing as far as severe illness and death, including the stress on our hospital systems and the severity of illness we’re seeing in our population.”

Schuyler urges home test users to follow the CDC guidelines if you test positive, isolate for 5 days, then continue to wear a mask for the next 5 days.

Cases in Chautauqua County, according to the latest weekly update from the Health Department, are trending downward with only 1,653 new cases this week. Schuyler believes this could be a sign of the Omicron variant dying out.

“Those that are at highest risk of severe illness or death from a COVID-19 or a SARS infection are those of advanced age and those who have severe illness or an underlying health condition that puts them at a higher risk for severe illness,” says Schuyler. “So if someone is overweight or obese, they’re diabetic, if they have hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, an immunocomprimsing conditon, they still need to remain very vigilant.”

She continues that the disease most likely will not go away, but instead we will need to learn to live with it. Herd immunity worldwide is a feat unlikely to be achieved due to low levels of vaccination, says Schuyler. The virus will continue to mutate, and the world will only be able to react.

“The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t prevent you from becoming infected, for some people it does. It all depends on your immune system, how your body reacts to the vaccine as well as to the virus exposure itself,” says Schuyler. “Some people who are fully vaccinated, and fully boostered, can get infected with the COVID-19 infection.”

She continues that the vaccine, however, does help people from becoming seriously ill. Nevertheless, if you have a weak immune system, the vaccine still might not be enough, which is why she believes mask wearing to be so important.

The Director reminds residents that despite the back and forth, the mask mandate for indoor settings is still in place. However, the New York State Heroes Act put in place to protect employees is set to expire February 1.

This act requires employers to adopt a plan for operations in the event of a declared public health emergency involving a communicable disease as well as providing benefits – including sick leave, paid family leave, and disability benefits – to New York employees impacted by mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.

“As long as we continue to see the high-transmission and the high spread of disease that we are seeing right now, it would be very foolish to think that you should not follow all of the precautions that you can and should, including masking,” says Schuyler. “So we will continue to strongly recommend that masking is one of the precautions that are taken I don’t foresee this county requiring that or mandating that, but we are going to continue to recommend that people use their common sense and do the best they can to protect themselves and those around them.”


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