Cattaraugus County will receive $303,000 in grant funding to enhance COVID-19 contact tracing and flu prevention ahead of the fall flu season.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding Thursday as part of more than $30 million available to New York counties to increase local health department staffing capacity for enhanced detection, surveillance and prevention of COVID-19.
Allegany County will receive nearly $252,000, according to the governor’s office.
The funding news came Thursday as Cattaraugus County reported one new case of COVID-19 infection, pushing the total to 125.
The latest case is a female resident who lives in the northwest corner of the county who has no significant travel history. The county Health Department reported she has been hospitalized for several weeks and her previous tests for COVID-19 on July 10 and July 22 were negative for the virus. The patient was retested July 29 as part of a transfer requirement to a rehabilitation facility, and her test result this time was positive.
The department has begun contact tracing.
Cuomo said the tracing funds, available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included $2 million in immunization funds to expand flu vaccination rates statewide to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system in the event of a severe flu season.
“As we continue to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are also preparing for the upcoming fall flu season,” Cuomo said, noting that contact tracing “has worked very well” for the state.
Expanded flu prevention and vaccination efforts will help ensure counties are ready to provide both flu and COVID-19 testing to residents, he added.
The state’s Contact Tracing Initiative, in partnership with counties, uses the NY Communicable Disease Management System, or CommCare. To ensure consistency throughout the state, counties receiving this funding will be required to use CommCare for all COVID-19 investigation and tracing activities.
Cuomo’s office said awards are based on county populations plus a supplemental award for the percentage of statewide COVID-19 cases in each county.
Erie County, with far more population than Cattaraugus County — and far more COVID-19 cases — was tabbed to receive more than $1.26 million. Elsewhere in Western New York, Niagara County will receive $543,314; Chautauqua County, $303,643; Stueben County, $310,840; and Wyoming County, $253,688.
With the possibility of COVID-19 cases resurging in the fall and winter, Dr. Howard Zucker, New York’s health commissioner, encourages everyone to “stay healthy by getting a flu shot this year and to be prepared to receive a COVID-19 vaccination when one becomes available.”
Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in New York fell 33 to 586 on Wednesday, reaching a new low since March 17.
A total of 142 people were in intensive care units Wednesday with the virus, down 12 from the day before, and 72 were intubated, down four. Cuomo pointed out both of those totals are new lows since mid-March.
The state conducted another 73,546 tests for the virus on Wednesday. New York now has 414,370 total confirmed cases of the virus, including 777 new cases. The rate of positive tests reported back on Wednesday was 1.06%, largely consistent with recent weeks.
In Western New York, the rate of positive tests reported back on Wednesday was 0.5%, the lowest rate in weeks.
A total of 13 people died in the state due to the virus on Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 25,145.
Cuomo also said the state is sending health staff to Utah to help a large hospital system there with COVID-19 response. Earlier this week, the governor said he would send aid to St. Petersburg, Florida. Earlier this month, New York aided Houston, Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.
The State Liquor Authority and New York State Police issued another 41 violations on Wednesday, mainly in New York City and on Long Island, where the governor has said violations are more of a problem.
Seven bars had their liquor licenses suspended, Cuomo’s office reported on Thursday. One was in Western New York — The Village Line in Kenmore — while the other six were in either New York City or its greater metro area.