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Hospitalizations may not be caused by COVID-19

People who have tested positive with COVID-19 and are in the hospital may not be hospitalized because of the virus.

During the last week, Chautauqua County officials have started to announce the number of people in the hospital who have tested positive with the virus because it’s one of the metrics being tracked for the New York Forward reopening plan by state officials. In the last four days, there has been up to four people who have tested positive with COVID-19 and are in the hospital, which was reported on Memorial Day, and as few as one, which was reported Wednesday.

However, just because someone is in the hospital and has tested positive with COVID-19 means they are there because of the virus, said Dr. Robert Berke, county physician.

“First of all, COVID-19 and hospitalization occur because everyone who goes into the hospital is tested,” Berke said. “Some of them have tested positive that have been hospitalized for other reasons.”

Berke said, to his knowledge as of Tuesday night, no one that is hospitalized and has tested positive with COVID-19 is in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator.

“They might be in the ICU for other reasons like people who have had a stroke,” he said. “You may test positive at that point, but (COVID-19) might not be the reason you’re there.”

Each day, county health care and department officials hold a meeting to discuss the latest news about the virus. Berke said during the Tuesday morning meeting, county officials were not talking about how many people were hospitalized and have tested positive.

“We’re discussing issues with testing at nursing homes, and people congregating and how that could lead to a tick up in the number of cases,” he said. “People in Chautauqua County have been fairly discipline. People have stuck to the game plan. We are going to open in a way that keeps everybody safe. We have no drugs, no vaccine, we only have our common sense to manage this.”

Berke said there have been 77 cases in the county and only four deaths.

“We’ve only had four deaths, and the deaths included one prehospital and two that were out of the county. The hospitalization rate has been low,” he said. “We have 70-plus cases and a majority have survived. We have a low mortality rate at the moment.”

According to the daily COVID-19 update provided by county officials Wednesday, there are no new cases while there are 21 active cases, including one hospitalization. To date there have been 52 recoveries, 246 county residents under quarantine/isolation, with not all cases being confirmed to have COVID-19, but have either show symptoms, are awaiting test results or have risk factors. So far, there have been 2,595 negative test results.

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