ALLEGANY, NY — Because of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Cattaraugus County and surrounding areas, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul met with Cattaraugus County leaders Tuesday afternoon at the recently established rapid testing site at the Allegany Fire Department.

“I want to commend the local public health officials, Dr. Watkins and his team, for the incredible work they are doing partnering with the State of New York,” Hochul said.

In addition to Public Health Director Kevin Watkins, Hochul met with County Administrator John R. Searles and County Legislature Chairman Howard VanRensselaer.

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The lieutenant governor noted that the rapid COVID-19 testing site at the fire department, 186 W. Main St., was established to help combat the recent surge of cases in the county.

“We continue to get more rapid testing machines,’ Hochul said. “We allocated five rapid test machines that are in use in this county, as well as making sure they have adequate supplies.” 

Hochul and the county leaders reminded residents that testing is available and free and that residents who go to the Allegany site have same-day access to their results. The county has four additional testing sites in various locations.

Hochul added New York State has offered more testing kits to the county to encourage more people to get tested and that she urges everyone to get tested in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“All the holidays are coming up like Thanksgiving,” Hochul said. “It’s probably a good time to start thinking about a plan to get tested even if you don’t have the symptoms.”

Residents who would like to make appointments to get tested should call 716-938-9119. The rapid testing center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“No state in the nation tests more than the state of New York,” Hochul said. “We are very focused on the testing and contact tracing in order to stop the spread.”

She pointed out that in a sparsely populated county like Cattaraugus, “six or seven cases can shoot a countywide average very high because of the low population. We want to make sure we continue to help our economy, keep these businesses open, people keep wearing their masks and social distancing, and we are going to be able to get through this.”

Both Watkins and Hochul noted that many of the cases have been identified at health care facilities, such as nursing homes but that the return of university students has contributed to the recent surge of cases. Watkins did note, however, that St. Bonaventure University has had no major outbreaks of COVID-19.

Hochul said the university administration should be commended for putting protocols in place, and the students also should be commended for following them. 

“And that” she said, “has made a great difference.”

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