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COVID levels high in county, masks recommended by CDC

The community level of COVID-19 within Chautauqua County has been bumped to high — as positive cases of the virus continue to rise and fewer hospital beds are currently available.

The bump came either late Thursday or sometime Friday, and means face masks are now recommended indoors in public as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The community level also increased to high in neighboring Cattaraugus and Warren counties. The level already had been high in Erie County.

According to the CDC, a county is considered to be at a “high community level” of COVID-19 if it sees more than 200 new weekly COVID cases per 100,000 residents, and if it sees either 10 or more new COVID admissions per 100,000 residents per week, or if it sees 10% or greater hospital bed use by COVID patients.

The community level went from low to medium recently in Chautauqua County. However, positive cases have been increasing since the middle of April. On Wednesday, 57 new cases were identified through lab testing, the latest data available by the state Health Department.

For the last week, the county has averaged 47.2 positive cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.

As of at least Wednesday, there were 21 hospital beds available — representing 19% open — across three of the county’s hospitals, UPMC Chautauqua, Brooks Memorial Hospital and Westfield Memorial Hospital.

For a seven-day average, 26% of beds were open for new patients, meaning availability has dropped just recently.

Of the 16 intensive care unit beds available at UPMC Chautauqua and Brooks, only one was open, according to information the hospitals provide daily to the state.

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