COVID hospitalizations low, but problems persist
While COVID-19 has not gone away, Chautauqua County fared as good as could be expected over the winter.
Interim county Public Health Director Dr. Michael Faulk, gave an update on COVID during a recent meeting of the county Board of Health. “Single-digit hospitalizations throughout the county have pretty much been the norm over the last several months,” he said. “We did have a spike at the end of February where we reached double-digit hospitalization in the county, but certainly nothing like the previous two years.”
Health Board member Dr. Tariq Khan credited a number of reasons for the drop. “With herd immunity and vaccinations, we’ve just gotten us to a point where most of the folks are doing OK,” he said.
Dr. Robert Berke, county physician, said he still sees a lot of COVID cases in his office. “Most of them are unvaccinated,” he said.
Health Board member Dr. Elizabeth Kidder said long COVID is a problem as well. “The chronic disease of Long COVID Syndrome is one we see a lot of in the primary care setting now,” she said. “It’s the vague symptoms of dizziness and light-headedness, and brain fog, vision, and fatigue. It’s so difficult because there’s no treatment and we’re going to be dealing with this. This is probably going to be one of our top chronic diseases in America.”
Meanwhile, Faulk said New York state has relaxed its mask mandates for various health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and treatment centers. He said each facility is responsible for coming up with their own masking policy for COVID-19.
According to the state’s COVID-19 reporting data, hospitalizations in Western New York peaked over the winter in early January with 213 cases. That number is much lower than January, 2021, when there were 701 hospitalization cases reported on a single day.