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WJTN News Headlines for Mar. 20, 2020

There are now more than 4,100 positive cases of COVID-19 in New York State, including nearly 1,700 new cases.  

Because of the increase in confirmed cases statewide, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that he has raised the requirement of employees working from home from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Cuomo says it's part of the ongoing effort to try and control the spread of the virus.  On the positive side... he says more than 100 people who tested positive have now recovered and the state's first reported case of COVID 19 appears to now be free of the virus after recovering at home.

There are still no confirmed cases of the COVID 19 Virus in Chautauqua County, but Health and Human Services Commissioner Christine Schuyler is urging residents to remain vigliant.  

During a Thursday afternoon press conference in Mayville to update status of the county, Schuyler noted that 35 people are now in precautionary quarantine.  County Executive P-J Wendel provided more information from the state about the restrictions that will soon be imposed on what are considered to be "non-essential" businesses and workplaces.  He says the first step will be taken tonight, when a 50-percent reduction in on-site workers will be enacted.  The 75-percent reduction will take effect at 8 PM Sunday night.  Schuyler added that they are awaiting test results for 32 people.  She says 80-percent of the people who get the virus will experience no to mild symptoms.  Schuyler urges residents who are sick to be in contact with their health care provider to determine if they need to be tested because the number of test kits available remains low in the region.    

The Seneca Nation announced that a non-Seneca employee of the Seneca Nation has tested positive for the coronavirus.  

In a printed release, President Rickey Armstrong-senior says,  "we were notified that an employee of our Health System has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19. That individual showed excellent judgment in remaining away from the Health System and away from Seneca territory upon feeling ill, and our thoughts are with them. We will work cooperatively with Erie County health officials to provide any information we can, in order to assist all necessary response and notification measures." At this time, Armstrong says the Nation has closed the Allegany Health Center, Cattaraugus Health Center and Cattaraugus Wellness Center. The unidentified employee is a resident of Erie County and last reported to work on March 12th. 

The indoor areas of shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania closed last night as restrictions increase in the effort to fight the spread of coronavirus.  

New York state is also now asking many businesses here to decrease their in-office workforce by 75-percent by late Sunday.  It's raised several questions about what businesses and industry can remain fully-staffed and which cannot.  Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Tranum says one area is defense contracting work.

Tranum says they are also looking into the matter because a lot of medical items are also made here.  Even with state directives that have closed in-house dining at local restaurants, many have remained open with carry-out, or delivery service.  Tranum says they have a full page of businesses that remain open during the time they are required to close their indoor service.  He says that information can be found at 

Cattaraugus County health officials are warning those who visited Holimont Ski Resort in Ellicottville early this month that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 -- the novel Coronavirus.  

The Cattaraugus County Health Department reports on it's social media today that an Essex County woman visited the resort between March 3rd and 8th.  During her visit, she did not exhibit symptoms of the virus, but they began to show days later, on March 12th.  Officials say anyone who was in the vicinity of the U-14 Race, or the resort, in general, on those days, may have been exposed to the virus.  Anyone who experiences symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath or a fever should monitor themselves.  If the symptoms do not appear by March 22nd, you were likely not exposed.

It's more important than ever that the public practice 'social distancing' in order to protect themselves and the vulnerable populations from the Coronavirus.  

In the meantime, Chautauqua County Executive P-J Wendel says, "As long as you remain in good health, maintain social distancing, good hygiene, and common sense, there's still a lot of things to do in Chautauqua County." He says the include going for a walk outside, to the park or learning how to a cook a new recipe. 

In a recent COVID-19 update sent to local media, Wendel also suggests now is the time to support local businesses who are providing takeout and delivery services. He says they will continue to release information as soon as possible on their Facebook Page and County website, in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading and keeping the public informed. As of Wednesday, Chautauqua County had no confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus.  But, the Chautauqua County Health and Human Services Department says there are currently 20 people in precautionary quarantine. There are also no confirmed cases in Cattaraugus or Warren Counties.

New York's senior U-S Senator is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to clarify travel restrictions it is imposing on the U-S -- Canadian border.  

Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer says Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf has not started what constitutes "essential" and non-essential traffic over the border.  Schumer says it's creating confusion for Western New Yorkers, many of whom either work in Canada, or depend on Canadians who commute to New York for work.  Schumer argued that area hospitals are dependent on the presence of hundreds of Canadian doctors and health care professionals who commute over the border -- especially to Buffalo.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a sweeping shutdown order to tens of thousands of "non-life-sustaining" businesses Thursday. 

The governor decreed they had to close their physical locations by 8 p.m. last night, to slow the spread of the coronavirus or face enforcement by state police and other government agencies.  It was among the harshest measures yet taken by a U.S. governor in response to the virus pandemic. Republicans warned of economic devastation and accused Wolf of setting off panic.