HOUGHTON — A cluster of COVID-19 infections in a Houghton nursing home has resulted in the deaths of two residents and 30 new cases among residents and staff in recent days.
At the same time, the Cattaraugus County Health Department reported that eight residents of an unnamed nursing facility and two healthcare workers are among 16 new COVID-19 cases in the county as infections continue to mount.
The Allegany County Department of Health said Wednesday evening that an 86-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man have died due to complications from the virus, with 27 residents of Houghton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and three staff members testing positive for the disease.
“Our deepest condolences to the families as they deal with this difficult time,” the department said in a press statement regarding the two deaths. Only one death, which occurred in March, had been confirmed in Allegany County before Wednesday, although it was unclear whether either of the two deceased patients were residents of the county.
“Houghton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has been very cooperative in helping us identify and trace contacts for these 30 people,” said Tyler Shaw, deputy public health director for the department. “They are also assisting the New York State Department of Health with their in-house investigative process because the state oversees all COVID-19 cases in healthcare facilities throughout the state.”
In Cattaraugus County, where there have been 12 deaths, the total number of COVID-19 cases jumped to 328. The health department’s active caseload was 78 on Wednesday, as there are 238 residents who have recovered.
In addition to the eight residents of the nursing facility, two healthcare workers — a man and woman who both live in the southeast quadrant of the county — were reported to be positive for the virus.
Three other female residents of the southeast quadrant were among the new positive cases, while three residents of the southwest quadrant — two males and one female — rounded out the reported cases.
The health department has begun contact tracing investigations involving each case.
Olean Mayor Bill Aiello on Wednesday called on all residents to recommit to observing the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) suggestions to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Citing the increase in area COVID-19 cases, the mayor said “we should all work together” to make them subside.
“These simple steps as outlined on the CDC website will not only protect our residents, especially the vulnerable, from the virus,” he said, “but will help our region avoid any future shutdowns due to increased cases.”
The CDC suggests the following:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and hot water, if they are not readily available use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
• Wear a mask over your mouth and nose when you are around others and unable to social distance.
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, throw used tissues into the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. If surfaces are dirty, clean with soap and water then use a household disinfectant on the surface.
• Be alert for symptoms of COVID-19 and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
In Allegany County, Shaw said the local health department identifies, notifies and monitors all identified contacts of COVID-positive cases.
“If you are named as a contact to any of these cases, you will be notified by phone, and we will get information from you, place you in quarantine, give you education on symptoms to look for and instruct you on procedures you must follow to keep you, your family, friends and neighbors safe from COVID-19,” Shaw said.
He recommended that anyone with questions about a family member in the Houghton facility to call it directly at (585) 567-2207.
General COVID-19 questions may be directed to the Allegany County Department of Health at (585) 268-9250.
The Houghton COVID-19 cases explain the leap in the county’s overall numbers reported earlier in the day. Total confirmed cases compiled since March had been steadily increasing the past several days, but Wednesday afternoon the county’s case count surged by 25 in one day — from 170 reported Tuesday to 195 on Wednesday.
The county department of health reported that 144 residents have recovered. There were 310 residents in quarantine, up from the 285 reported on Tuesday.
McKean County’s case count rose to 80 on Wednesday, up one case from a day earlier.