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County nears 600 cases in November

As the month of November draws to a close, Chautauqua County is approaching 600 new cases of COVID-19 since Nov. 1 — the most for the region in any calendar month since a pandemic was declared in March.

The county announced 23 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday and 19 additional cases on Sunday, closing out an extended holiday weekend that added a combined 100 new cases to the county’s total. More details are expected on the new cases from the past four days on Monday, but heading into the final day of the month, 596 total new cases have been detected since Nov. 1 — 1,671 total since a pandemic was declared in March.

By comparison, the county had 404 new cases during the month of October. That number was surpassed on Nov. 22.

Through Saturday, the county posted a 3.6% positivity rate on a 7-day rolling average, according to the most recent numbers released by the state.

State data also revealed the county has had at least 1,000 persons test for the virus on 10 different days this month — Nov. 4 (1,009 tests), Nov. 5 (1,187 tests), Nov. 7 (1,006 tests), Nov. 10 (1,816 tests), Nov. 11 (1,245 tests), Nov. 12 (3,147 tests), Nov. 13 (2,006 tests), Nov. 17 (1,817 tests), Nov. 19 (1,291 tests), Nov. 24 (1,313 tests)

Since Nov. 24, the county has had nearly 5,000 persons test for the virus — 4,813 in total.

These numbers all come before a post-Thanksgiving surge is expected to appear. In a conference call with reporters on Sunday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned state residents of a “surge upon a surge” that was discussed by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci over the weekend.

“I expect you’re going to see the rate going up through the holiday season,” Cuomo said. “This is a new phase for COVID — call it the winter phase or the holiday phase or the surge upon surge phase — and we are spending this weekend talking to health officials and local governments about the plan for that next phase.”

No announcement was made Sunday regarding Cattaraugus County, whose public health director, Kevin Watkins, told the Olean Times Herald that that region could be trending toward a yellow zone due to its 6.4% infection rate over the last seven days. That announcement could come as soon as today.

On Saturday evening, Cattaraugus County reported an additional 21 cases. In all, there have been 1,076 since March. There are 22 hospitalized with 343 cases active.

Across the state, the rate of positive tests was 4.27%.

“If you look at New York relative only to New York, you see the numbers going up — not as fast as in other states, but the numbers are going up,” Cuomo said. “It’s nice that we’re doing better in a national and global context, but it’s irrelevant to one extent because we have to deal with the issues that we have here in New York relative to New York. “In the meantime, everyone needs to stay vigilant: wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain social distance, and above all stay New York Tough.”

As cases continue to climb across the Western New York region, the Chautauqua County Health Department reports that free COVID-19 testing will be provided in Dunkirk on Tuesday and in Jamestown on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In Dunkirk, the testing will be at the Murphy Training Center, Dunkirk Training Grounds at 665 Brigham Road.

In Jamestown, the testing will be at Taylor Training Center, Jamestown Training Grounds, 240 Harrison St.

COVID-19 testing is available to any Chautauqua County resident who wants to be tested and is free. Appointments are required; walk-in testing is not available.

The quickest way to get an appointment is to visit the link below and schedule your appointment online. If you do not have internet access, you may call 1-866-604-6789 for scheduling assistance. However, due to current call volume, it may take some time to get through to a scheduler, and testing appointments fill up quickly.

Visit the Chautauqua County Health Department website to access the online registration links: https://chqgov.com/public-health/covid-19-testing-sites.

John D’Agostino, regional editor, and Eric Tichy, contributed to this report.

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