MAYVILLE, N.Y. — There is some encouraging news out of Chautauqua County as officials there say they are seeing a downturn in the number of positive COVID-19 cases at Fieldbrook Foods in Dunkirk.
However, County Executive PJ Wendell announced SUNY Fredonia reported 5 new positive cases on Friday bringing its total up to 50.
“On September 2, a walk-through inspection of Fieldbrook Foods manufacturing facility was completed by the County Health Department, NYS Department of Health, and NYS Ag & Markets,” said Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Public Health Director. “In general, the company proved to be in compliance with most of the prevention guidance although staff was able to identify some vulnerable points in their operations. Recommendations for improvement especially pertaining to common areas, break times, and handwashing, were made. Fieldbrook was very receptive to the suggestions and immediately took steps to implement all recommended actions.”
Wendell attributed the majority of the number of active cases in the county, currently at 166, to the clusters at Fieldbrook and SUNY Fredonia.
The County Executive also announced the state will keep four rapid testing machines in the county for now along with the necessary supplies.
“In consultation with my team, which includes public and private partners, we have created a Rapid Response Plan,” said Wendel. “So if we have future clusters of COVID-19 cases in the County, we will be able to quickly deploy these machines and setup a rapid testing site where someone could be tested for COVID-19 and have their results in 15 minutes. This would allow us to quickly identify and isolate positive cases and their close contacts to further mitigate the spread of the virus, which will be an especially critical asset as grade schools begin to reopen this fall. In addition to the machines, the State has also provided us with 1,000 tests so our testing capabilities will be reserved for hotspots in the County. I thank New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo for providing us with these machines and tests, which provide us with one more tool in our toolbox to control the spread of the virus. I also thank The Chautauqua Center for its continued support in working with Chautauqua County during this pandemic. As early as March 18, The Chautauqua Center began testing to assist in diagnosing positive COVID-19 patients.”
Both Wendell and Public Health Director Christine Schulyer pleaded with residents to be responsible and avoid large gatherings over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Both continue to stress the importance of following the guidance of mask wearing and social distancing.
“With Labor Day this weekend, I urge all residents to please do their part by avoiding large gatherings and wearing face coverings when they are unable to maintain a six feet distance from others,” said Schuyler. “We are all in this together and we need everyone to do their part to help us prevent the spread of the disease in our communities and to keep each other safe.”
"The numbers are dire, and we need to focus on what we are doing," said Wendell. "Although we are in Phase IV, we are not back to life prior to March 15."
When making Labor Day plans, Wendell asked residents to consider the size of the gathering and if it feels too large, don't go. "We must step up our efforts and do what we're asked. We need to focus and get back on track."
Overall, Chautauqua County currently has 166 active cases of COVID-19, 10 people have died, including an additional death this week and 14 people are currently being monitored under travel quarantine.