Chautauqua County declares state of emergency, 'recommends' schools close

Mar 16, 2020

Chautauqua County has become the latest to declare a state of emergency due to COVID-19. County Executive P.J. Wendel said the state of emergency will remain in effect for a period not to exceed 30 days or until rescinded, whichever occurs first, and may also be extended for additional periods not to exceed 30 days.

“Although there are no cases within Chautauqua County to date, this situation is rapidly evolving and the threat of this virus is imminent to the citizens and visitors of our county," said Wendel. "It is necessary that Chautauqua County be proactive and fully prepared to deal with its effects.”

He has established a County COVID-19 Response Team containing public health and emergency services officials to issue daily updates to the public.

Health and Human Services is also now "recommending that all school districts in Chautauqua County close to students on Wednesday until further notice." HHS Commissioner Christine Schulyer said "this is not a mandate, only a recommendation, so it is up to each school district to decide.”

“COVID-19 seems to be targeting the older population, not our kids – but our kids are great transmitters," said Schulyer. "The germs that they have on them can easily spread to those that really can’t fight them away as well as our kids can. We need to protect our vulnerable populations – our older adults and those with underlying health conditions, compromised immune systems, and pregnant women.”

The department is also encouraging all Social Services clients with an appointment on Monday, March 16, in Mayville, Jamestown or Dunkirk to not come in for scheduled appointments or non-emergency services. 

"Negative actions will not be taken on the case as a result of missing an appointment," according to HHS. 

Emergency needs will still be addressed on site at our Dunkirk and Jamestown locations. Applications for assistance should be mailed or dropped off to the County Department of Social Services in Jamestown or Dunkirk.

Chautauqua County Medical Director Dr. Michael Faulk also reiterated precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State.

“Due to the nature in which viruses including COVID-19 spread, we should all limit our public interaction, especially if you have symptoms,” said Faulk. “That means avoiding crowded spaces, limiting trips to the store, maybe skipping your usual night out or postponing family parties. If you do have symptoms or are concerned, please call your healthcare provider ahead and they will instruct you on how to proceed.”

County Sheriff James Quattrone asked residents to avoid calling 911 about coronavirus in order to keep the lines open for emergencies. He, instead recommended the state Health Department hotline: 888-364-3065.

"We are also taking precautions in the jail to ensure our staff and inmates are protected, including ceasing face-to-face visitations while allowing additional phone time,” said Quattrone.