Dr. Kevin Watkins

Dr. Kevin Watkins is shown on a Zoom videoconference on Oct. 7.

OLEAN — Reporting another death due to COVID-19 — an 86-year-old man — Cattaraugus County health officials said Friday that the state has opted to start up a rapid test unit at the Allegany Fire Department, beginning Monday.

Dr. Kevin Watkins, public health director, said the 13th Cattaraugus County resident to die in the pandemic “developed respiratory failure and was unable to overcome his illness despite aggressive medical treatment. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and the entire Cattaraugus County community.”

The county was also notified of six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, pushing the county’s total number of cases to 343 since the onset of the pandemic.

The department’s active positive caseload Friday was 79 as there are 251 residents who have recovered from COVID-19.

Watkins said, starting Monday and running through Saturday, a drive-through site will be set up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Allegany Fire Department, 186 W. Main St.

“We will try to test as many people as we can in Cattaraugus County,” Watkins said. “Of course, the state (officials) will be here to run that drive-through clinic (outside) the fire hall.”

Anyone who is a resident of the county may call (716) 938-9119 to schedule a rapid test, which will be free.

“It’s a rapid test and we’ll get the results back to them by the end of the day,” Watkins said. “They’ll use the drive-through clinic that we currently have … (the state) has shipped out five rapid tests instruments to add to the three that we already have.”

Watkins said the state will provide 1,000 of the rapid test kits to use during the week.

He stressed that tests will only be provided to those who set up an appointment by calling the department. Additionally, he noted only the rapid tests will be administered next week.

Four of the new cases reported Friday are residents of the southeast quadrant of the county, which includes the Olean area.

One is a woman who is a healthcare worker and who reported direct contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. Two other women report no travel history and one reports direct contact to someone positive for the virus, while the other had no known contact.

The fourth person from the county’s southeast to test positive for COVID-19 is a male who reported no travel and no known contact with anyone positive for the virus.

The fifth and sixth cases reported Friday are female residents of the southwest part of the county — neither person reported any travel of known contact with anyone positive for the virus.

The department of health has begun contact tracing investigations.

MEANWHILE, Watkins said he is uncertain why administrators for a nursing facility in the county, which has seen several cases of COVID-19 infection, has not released its name to the public.

Other facilities in the county, such as the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Olean, have reported infections with their staff in the past and had released that information.

“I don’t know what the hold-up is … but if the public wants to know, I think they have a right to know,” Watkins said of the unnamed facility. “I’m more than happy to tell it, but the county attorney wants to read through and hold back until” the information is released by the facility.

Watkins said a number of the residents who tested positive for the virus have been transferred out of the facility to an associated facility that cares for COVID-19 patients. He said the nursing facility has hired a private cleaning service to “clean the facility from top to bottom, so they’re doing all the right things necessary to (stop) more spread.”

Patients who were not infected with the virus remain at the facility, he added.

Watkins said adding to these latest nursing facility reports is the continued increase in positive COVID-19 cases reported every day in the county.

“Some days (positive cases) are in the teens, and other days they are singular,” he said.

IN WESTERN NEW YORK, the collective positivity rate in testing on Thursday was 1.4%, down from 1.6% the day before.

Elsewhere in the state, in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office calls “red zone” focus areas — almost all in downstate — the positivity rate for test results reported Thursday was 4.84%, unchanged from the day before.

The governor said all must keep washing their hands, wearing our masks and remaining socially distant.

In the remainder of the state, not counting red zone areas in Brooklyn, Queens and Rockland and Orange counties, the positivity tare Thursday was 1.14%. The state’s overall positivity rate was 1.25% with red zone areas included.

Patient hospitalizations across the state totaled 918 on Thursday, up 21 from the day before, while there were 143 newly admitted patients. There were 200 patients (+3) in ICUs, with 97 of those patients intubated (+2).

There were 10 more deaths in the state due to COVID-19, pushing Anew York’s confirmed total to 25,628.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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