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Wendel: ‘Hats off’ to residents as COVID stats trend down

Chautauqua County arguably had one of its best weeks statistically this year when it comes to new COVID cases, hospitalizations and active cases over a seven-day span.

County Executive PJ Wendel attributed the ongoing downward trend in those crucial categories to residents complying with facial covering mandates and social distancing; the passing of the year-end holidays and its gatherings that caused a spike in new cases; and the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to a significant portion of the eligible population.

“It’s the residents,” Wendel said. “The residents are doing what they’ve been asked to do and what they were doing early on (during the pandemic). Hats off to them.”

The county Health Department reported 23 new COVID cases and one new virus-related death on Friday. In the last seven days, 178 new cases were recorded — an average of just over 25 a day — and only two new deaths related to the coronavirus.

To date, there have been 7,391 confirmed cases, 7,076 recoveries and 136 deaths.

From the beginning of December through the first week of February, the county saw anywhere between 40 and 120 new COVID cases a day.

Further, the seven-day positivity rate — the number of COVID-19 tests coming back positive compared to all those administered — hit a high of over 13% the weekend of Jan. 9. That seven-day average now has hovered around 2% throughout the week.

“We’re coming down from where we were, even from the middle of the month,” Wendel said of new cases, those in the hospital with the virus and the positivity rate. “It’s really the residents, they are doing what we asked them to do.”

Those with COVID in the hospital have also decreased significantly. There were 39 people hospitalized at the beginning of February; as of Friday, that number has fallen to nine.

The county executive said the downward trend isn’t simply due to less testing taking place. He noted while there hasn’t been much rapid testing that had accounted for past spikes in new cases being reported, the number of daily tests remains where it has been.

Meanwhile, 25 new COVID cases were reported in Cattaraugus County on Thursday evening. There are currently 212 active cases, 17 people with the virus in the hospital and a seven-day positivity rate of 3.8%.

To date there have been 4,195 total confirmed cases, 3,892 recoveries and 85 COVID-related deaths.

And over in Warren County, eight new cases were noted from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

According to the department’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 2,122 cases of COVID-19 in the county so far. That includes 1,736 confirmed cases and 386 probables. There have been 101 new cases in February.

The death toll in the county remained at 96, or almost 2.5 deaths per 1,000 population — 0.2%.

For the second straight day, there was only one COVID-positive patient at Warren General Hospital according to the latest release. That patient was not on a ventilator nor in intensive care.

Brian Ferry at the Times Observer contributed to this story.

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