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Hospitalizations hit highs; 2 more deaths

New York state saw record coronavirus hospitalizations over the weekend, rising to levels last seen in May.

The state noted that 6,208 were hospitalized as of Friday — the largest number in the state since May 15. That number had decreased to 6,185 as of Sunday afternoon.

Hospitalizations in the eight-county Western New York region, however, continued to decline from its previous high of 548 on Dec. 10. As of Saturday, 473 were in the hospital in the region.

Cattaraugus County has reported five deaths since Thursday, reporting its 37th death on Saturday, a 90-year-old man who developed respiratory failure and was unable to overcome his illness despite aggressive medical treatment, and its 38th death on Sunday, a 73-year-old woman who developed respiratory failure and was unable to overcome her illness despite aggressive medical treatment.

In that county, 25 new cases on Saturday and 18 new cases on Sunday. There are 617 active cases, 35 hospitalized and 858 quarantined.

The Chautauqua County Health Department does not release figures on the weekend and will release the total number of new cases from Friday to Sunday on Monday. However, according to New York Forward, the state’s COVID-19 online hub, 96 positive cases were reported by the state on Friday and 50 positive cases were reported on Saturday, though those numbers tend to differ slightly from those reported by the county.

Of the 99 new cases announced on Friday, 43 were reported in the Jamestown zip code. Mayor Eddie Sundquist issued a statement to The Post-Journal on the new cases over the weekend.

“The numbers are clear, the virus is spreading rapidly in the City of Jamestown,” said Sundquist. “Now, more than ever, our residents need to be vigilant and maintain social distance, wear a mask, and keep gatherings to a minimum. All of these things are necessary to get us through the holidays and into the new year. We must make these sacrifices now to keep our loved ones alive. We will continue to make our number one priority the health and safety of our citizens.”

In a press briefing via conference call on Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also issued a separate warning to the federal government regarding a new variant of the virus being seen in the United Kingdom that has caused 120 countries to issue a travel ban. Currently, there are six daily flights from the U.K. to New York.

A lack of action on this is “reprehensible,” the governor said, considering the influx of travelers from Europe in the spring that caused an initial surge in the virus downstate.

“Today that variant is getting on a plane and landing at JFK,” Cuomo said. “How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn? … This is the same mistake.”

Howard Zucker, state Commissioner of Health, indicated that while the variant is not being tested for yet in New York state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking for the mutation. As of Sunday, there had been no evidence of it.

During the conference call, Cuomo also once again noted that vaccinations in nursing homes, a federally-operated program through CVS and Walgreens, would begin on Monday.

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