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October COVID ‘spread’ seen as troubling

Another death and 22 new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Chautauqua County Health Department on Friday as officials acknowledged October as the most troubling month of the pandemic with 389 total cases.

In addition, the county finally acknowledged what the OBSERVER had been reporting for the last week: an outbreak in the Dunkirk social clubs. Seventeen cases were linked to those sites with six active and 11 recovered. The other north county cluster occurred at a private wedding. There were 21 cases with nine active and 12 recovered.

“We’ve seen clusters related to a bridal dinner, a wedding, frequenting social clubs and bowling alleys. We’re seeing disease spread amongst households, group homes, health care facilities, co-workers and in places of business mainly because of activities that people partake in outside of work,” said Christine Schuyler, county Public Health Director. “COVID-19 is here and everyone needs to take personal responsibility for not spreading it. Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, and stay home if you’re not feeling well. “

Officials also announced inspections of those social clubs in the Dunkirk area occurred this week and such inspections of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other venues throughout the county will continue. Owners, operators and patrons may be subject to fines up to $15,000 for violating public health orders and regulations.

“Now is not the time to think you’re invincible or to ignore the rules,” Schuyler said. “We all want to get back to ‘normal’ but that will not be possible until more measures are in place to control the spread of this virus.”

The 14th death, officials said, involved a gentleman in his 70s with multiple conditions and complications of COVID-19 at an out of state hospital. As of Wednesday, 22 people — the highest number so far — remained hospitalized.

On Friday, the department announced 142 active cases. The newest infections include: six from Jamestown, four from Fredonia, three from Silver Creek and Dunkirk, two from Dewittville and Sinclairville, and one from Sheridan and Ashville.

The Jamestown Fire Department has seven active cases and the Tanglewood Manor incident has four active cases for employees with 20 recovered and 15 active cases for residents with 75 recoveries.

Free COVID-19 rapid testing clinics were held throughout the week in Jamestown and Dunkirk. From Monday to Thursday, 41 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of a total 908 tested, a 4.5% positivity rate. Results for Friday will be reported next week.

Overall, since March, there have been 904 recovered cases, 14 deaths and 1,060 total confirmed cases.

For October, the county also issued these numbers: 389 cases were reported — 37% of all cases to date; 121 — 31% — were associated with the outbreak at Tanglewood Manor/Memory Garden with 24 employees, 7 community contacts, and 90 residents testing positive; 19 were students or employees at Fredonia State University; and 16 are linked to group homes.

In Cattaraugus County, numbers also continue to spike. Over the last week, the Health Department noted 76 new cases with 10 additional infections reported late Thursday. Through that evening, there are 463 total cases with 107 active, 336 recoveries and 18 deaths.

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