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Alarming COVID case climb continues

Forty-one new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thanksgiving Day by the Chautauqua County Health Department. It is one of highest daily totals since the pandemic began in March.

Overall, this puts the county total at 1,605. During the four-day holiday, the Health Department said Wednesday it will not be releasing further details on any of the cases.

Neighboring Cattaraugus County reported 81 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday evening, bringing the total there to 1,003 with 344 active.

Schools also continue to be impacted by the recent surge in the region. Students in the Silver Creek schools district will remain in a remote model for a week after the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to a district post on its Facebook page, eight individuals from the district have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past seven days while 15 staff members and 50 students have been in quarantine over the past two weeks. Additionally, this week there has been staff members who became ill and are seeking a COVID test.

“As a result of this, and a lack of certified substitutes, this has left us understaffed, creating an inability to operate our programming in person successfully, efficiently, and effectively,” the district noted.

These issues are forcing the district to remain in a fully remote learning model for Monday through Friday, Dec. 4. “We are hopeful these additional days will successfully create space, distance, and separation for all staff and students so that everyone can get and/or remain healthy. We plan to resume in-person learning on Monday, December 7. Although this is an extremely difficult decision, the affected staff across the entire district will not allow us to successfully conduct in-person instruction.”

According to the state COVID school report card, Silver Creek has had a total of 14 positive tests for teachers and students.

Earlier Thursday, state Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported the Western New York region’s percent of positive test results at 5.46%, the highest of any in the state.

“We know what’s going on with the numbers because we’re seen the movie in New York, we’ve seen the movie across the country,” he said. “The positivity goes up, more people get sick, more people go into the hospital, more people go into the ICU, more people get intubated, and the death number goes up. Relative to the rest of the country, New York State is still doing phenomenally well and that’s thanks to the good actions of New Yorkers.

“On the winter plan, we’re going to stay with the micro-cluster approach because that targets the spread, minimizes economic impact and stresses individual and community accountability. So that’s working very well, and all the experts think that is state-of-the-art. The winter plan will include three elements – first, adding more factors to the micro-clusters. Second, the schools and the testing of the schools to keep them open at a rate that’s sustainable. Third, a vaccine distribution plan. … The spread is going to be from pre-symptomatic people who don’t even know they have the virus. It’s not that they’re going to be malicious. It’s going to be accidental and involuntary. So what appears safe is no longer safe in this crazy world.”

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