OLEAN — Like the rest of New York state, Cattaraugus County is seeing a small surge of COVID-19 among residents.

Twelve new COVID-19 cases were reported by the Cattaraugus County Health Department on Monday: three each from Saturday and Sunday and six new cases on Monday.

“It appears we do have a cluster from a travel incident of a family at a Pennsylvania church camp over the Fourth of July,” said Dr. Kevin D. Watkins, public health director.

“We are seeing at least seven from that church camp incident and we are still testing,” Watkins said late Monday afternoon. “There seems to be another family cluster too.”

He added, “This small surge we are noticing appears to be from the Fourth of July events that often include excursions with several family members and guests.”

New cases of the coronavirus appear to be almost exclusively among people who are unvaccinated.

“With everyone mingling together, unfortunately masks are not being worn in many situations,” Watkins said. “This might be the result of that.”

The new cases have resulted in the hospitalization of a two-month-old infant, he said.

All this may very well be associated with the Delta variant, Watkins said. “It is very contagious. This may be showing its ugly head in our community as well.”

Cattaraugus County has not confirmed any Delta variant cases largely because a lack of genomic sequencing testing. “It’s in Erie County, so we can speculate that it is here as well,” Watkins said. “This is more transmissible, more contagious, and it is affecting the young as well.”

Watkins said, “We have to really be careful out there mingling with other people. It is important for thoise who are not vaccinated to take heed of the warning and let us vaccinate them.”

Most of those contracting COVID-19 are unvaccinated, he explained. “It has taken its toll. We are encouraging those who are not vaccinated to get the vaccine.”

The county’s daily percent positive on Monday was 0%, the seven-day rolling average was 1.9% and the 14-day average was 1.1%.

The new cases have required the health department to bring in more contact tracers.

Over the next two weeks, the health department has scheduled vaccination clinics at schools across the county. Those clinics will have the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second dose in 28 days, and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The public is welcome at the school clinics as well as youth ages 12-18. Walk-ins are also welcomed. The school clinics include:

  • Delevan and Yorkshire, July 20.
  • Cattaraugus and Randolph, July 21.
  • Hinsdale, July 22.
  • Olean, July 26.
  • Salamanca, July 27.
  • Franklinville, July 28.
  • Portville, July 29.

Watkins said that with only 52% of county residents 18 and older with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, that leaves almost half the county unprotected as the number of cases is on the rise.

There have now been 5,759 cases of COVID-19 in the county since March 2020. There have been 108 deaths.

The health department is now following 30 active cases, including five who are hospitalized and 136 in contact quarantine.

Appointments for vaccinations can be made through the Cattaraugus County website by visiting: https://www.cattco.org/covid-vacc-info or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (716) 701-3777.

To register for a free COVID-19 diagnostic test through the county health department, go online to data.enchantedmountains.net/form/cattaraugus-county-covid-19-diagnostic-testing-registration-10.

“I hope this will fizzle out,” Watkins said. “If we can vaccinate another 20% to 25% of county residents, I will be more comfortable.”

He said the health department is reaching out to those who are hesitant to be vaccinated.

“If people call the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center at (716) 701-3777, we’ll be happy to answer any questions or concerns and register them for a vaccination clinic,” Watkins said. “We’ll even come to their home if they cannot get to a clinic.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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