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November COVID-19 numbers keep rising

October was the worst month of the COVID-19 pandemic for Chautauqua County as 404 infections were recorded. Halfway through November, as numbers continue to spike, that figure looks as though it will be broken.

Over the weekend, the Health Department announced 30 new cases — with 10 on Sunday. Through the first 15 days of the month, there have been 249 reported infections.

Those rising numbers are enough to concern at least two area officials. Both city of Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas and village of Fredonia Mayor Doug Essek are urged residents in the municipalities they serve to continue to take precautions regarding the spread of the virus.

In a letter sent to the OBSERVER this weekend, the mayors note the holiday season is nearly here. However, they warn of the “spike over the last month in the number of reported positive cases and hospitalizations.”

Rosas and Essek emphasized social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing and sanitizing hands. “We are one community,” the mayors wrote. “While there are differences geographically and in the way in which we live our lives, it is imperative that each of us do our part to stop the spread of this dangerous pandemic.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down. Each of us must follow the CDC guidelines and work together if we are to control the spread of COVID here in Dunkirk and Fredonia.

“The precautions we take today to protect our loved ones as well as ourselves (practice social distancing, wear a mask when in public, wash our hands and use hand sanitizer) are critical to our success in mitigating the continued spread of COVID in our community.”

According to New York state, the positive rate of testing for the county was 1.7% on Saturday. Only Cattaraugus County had a lower number in the Western New York region at 1.3%.

Higher rates also continue to have the attention of state Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “What we’re seeing now as COVID rages across the country and world is what scientists told us time and time again would happen as the colder months arrived,” Governor Cuomo said. “But we learned from what we went through in New York and we’ve been a step ahead ever since. These next few weeks will be challenging as the holidays arrive. We all want to be with our loved ones, especially after this hard year, but we must remain vigilant. We all have COVID fatigue, but we simply don’t have the luxury of letting our guard down — COVID isn’t tired. If we stay New York Tough and keep up the good work we’ve been doing, wearing our masks, staying socially distant and adhering to gathering limits, we can manage this global surge of COVID, but these next few weeks are key in maintaining our progress.”

Chautauqua County, since March, has 1,324 total cases of COVID-19. Cattaraugus County reported three additional cases Sunday for a total of 613. The Health Department there said there were 117 active cases with 474 recoveries.

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