Covid Notice Nov 24, 2021

Good afternoon,

Chautauqua County is seeing increased infections, hospitalizations, and our highest rates of infection in school-aged children.  Along with the Chautauqua County Board of Health, I strongly recommend vaccination and boosters for all of those eligible and recommend that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor public settings, wash hands frequently, and stay home and away from others if ill.

Data
As of November 23rd, 50 persons were hospitalized in Chautauqua County hospitals with COVID-19, the majority falling in the age range of 54-64. This does not include Chautauqua County residents who are hospitalized outside of Chautauqua County, such as in Erie or Warren counties in Pennsylvania or Erie County, NY.  Bree Agett, our Epidemiologist, has compiled the County’s weekly dashboard report which is attached here and can also be found on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/.  As of November 21, 2021, 59.9% of the County’s total population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine; 53.9% are fully vaccinated. The rates for those 12 and older are 68.1% and 62%; 69.9% and 63.6% for those 18 and older; and 91.7% and 81.2% for those 65 and older, respectively. Of the COVID-19 cases reported since August 1, 2021, 56% have not been vaccinated, 22% have unknown vaccination status, 15% are fully vaccinated, and 7% are partially vaccinated. Vaccination status is unknown if the interview was not completed at the time positive case is tracked or if staff is unable to make contact with the case. The CDC will be updating vaccination age groups to account for eligibility of 5-11 year old children.

Contact Tracing/Isolation/Quarantine
In accordance with CDC guidelines, effective Monday, November 29, 2021, the CCHD will prioritize case investigation interviews of people who tested positive for or were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past six (6) days, based on test date or symptom onset.  Contact tracing efforts will focus on household contacts and people living, working or visiting congregate living facilities, high density workplaces, schools, or other settings or events with potential widespread transmission of COVID-19.

Any person who tests positive for COVID-19, must isolate for 10 days past the onset of symptoms or the date the test was obtained if there are no symptoms. All persons are instructed to contact their health care provider for medical advice and symptom monitoring if diagnosed with COVID-19. Because of the intense surge in cases, there is a delay between when some people find out they have a positive COVID-19 test result and when the we can call them to explain isolation and notify their close contacts. Therefore, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should tell their close contacts and household contacts to quarantine.  I have reminded healthcare providers that they are not instruct their patients who test positive for COVID-19 to call the us at the Health Department but instead to inform them of my standing order of isolation and to monitor their symptoms.  The Order for Quarantine/Isolation can be found at on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/.

Also in accordance with CDC guidance and effective Monday, November 29, 2021, Chautauqua County residents who are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive individual and not fully vaccinated can be released from quarantine after seven full days (i.e. day 8) following the last COVID-19 exposure under certain conditions:
• A COVID-19 test with a specimen collected and tested on day 5 or later following last exposure is negative; and,
• No symptoms are reported during daily monitoring
Quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after completion of Day 7 (i.e., day 8). Acceptable COVID-19 tests include NAAT (PCR) tests or antigen tests. With this strategy, CDC estimates that the risk of spreading infection after quarantine is relatively low, between 5-12%. Individuals who are released from quarantine early are strongly encouraged to continue to monitor for symptoms and to wear a mask around others for two weeks following their last date of exposure.

We have also added two AFFIRMATION documents to our web site for individuals to provide to workplaces, schools or for travel that affirm their own quarantine or isolation periods. These forms may be used for Isolation or Quarantine Release or for NY Paid Family Leave COVID-19 claims as if it was an individual Order for Isolation or Quarantine by the Chautauqua County Public Health Director and can be accessed on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/.  County residents do NOT need to call the Health Department to be released from quarantine or isolation. They should be prepared to show a negative test result from day 5 of quarantine or after if a workplace or school requests it, this includes home tests.

Positive home COVID-19 test results should be reported to CCHD by calling 716-753-4491 or using the online reporting form found on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/.   Individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are not subject to quarantine as long as they remain symptom-free.

Happy Thanksgiving
On behalf of the CCHD, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.  These certainly continue to be challenging times and it may seem difficult to feel thankful. Amidst our own struggles and the struggles of those around us, I hope that you can take a little time to refresh and rejuvenate and focus on all that there is to be thankful for.

Take care,

Christine Schuyler, BSN, RN, MHA
Christine Schuyler
Director, Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services
(Commissioner of Social Services/Public Health Director)