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26 new COVID-19 cases; county efforts lauded

Twenty-six new cases of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County were reported Saturday by the Health Department. Over the last week, there have been 157 cases — an average of more than 22 cases per day.

On Friday, The Chautauqua County Health Department received reports from the New York state Department of Health on its disease investigation and contact tracing efforts for the months of September and October 2020. According to the state, Chautauqua County is doing better than both Western New York and New York State comparisons.

“Our county Public Health staff is truly the frontline unsung heroes of this pandemic,” said Public Health Director Christine Schuyler. “It has been all hands on deck every single day since early March. The dedication and hard work of everyone from nurses to clerks and everyone in between is nothing short of absolutely amazing.”

During the months of September and October, Chautauqua County Health Department’s COVID-19 response team successfully reached 99.5% of the 663 positive cases, and completed interviews with 94.1% of cases; 78% of interviews were completed within 24 hours. Contact information for identified close contacts was obtained from 68.7% of cases; each case listed an average of 3.3 contacts. For each of these figures, Chautauqua County fared better than both Western New York and state comparisons.

The New York State Contact Tracing Virtual Call Center provides COVID-19 contact tracing services on behalf of Chautauqua County. For the months of September and October, 94.5% of 2,167 identified contacts were reached, 76.1% had a completed interview, and 74.7% had an interview completed within 48 hours. These rates were similar to, but slightly lower than Western New York and New York state rates. All figures are considered “green,” or good, on the NYS Contact Tracing dashboard, with the exception of contacts with interviews completed within 48 hours which falls into the “yellow,” or “acceptable” category.

“Isolation and quarantine are critically important public health strategies to decrease the spread of contagious diseases such as COVID-19. Our public health staff is efficiently and expertly implementing these measures which are proven to reduce the number of people infected and the number of deaths during this pandemic,” added Schuyler. “Isolation and quarantine along with other preventive measures such as wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing are the most effective tools in our toolbox at this time – and they are working.”

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