Local News Headlines

New York state is continuing it's crackdown on places and gatherings that are violating COVID-19 restrictions... and here in Chautauqua County... the biggest concern is large gatherings.  That from Sheriff Jim Quattrone, who says a party last weekend in the town of Harmony involving "several hundred" people -- many under the age of 21 -- caught their attention.  Quattrone says keep any gatherings small.

It's recklessness... say officials... that allows much of the community spread of the novel coronavirus in large gatherings.  Quattrone says the large party on Goshen Road Saturday led to charges being filed against a Panama man... and, there were other concerning issues beside the potential for a coronavirus outbreak.  He says those gatherings often involve alcohol and other possibly "disasterous decisions."  Quattrone says local law enforcement continues to respond to complaints that are received on a daily basis.

U-S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to include enhanced unemployment benefits in any new COVID Stimulus bill.  During a video press conference yesterday afternoon... the Democrat said those benefits -- which include a $600/week check -- have kept millions of people out of poverty.  Gillibrand adds they've been using most of that for necessities, including bills and utilities.

Gillibrand also blasted the Republican talking point that the check's disincentivize work.  She says it's unfounded for two reasons... one is a recent Yale study found no evidence that those receiving the more generous benefit were not returning to work.  Gillibrand adds that there "aren't millions of open jobs for these people to return to."  Until that happens, she says the temporary benefit is needed... not the smaller 200-dollars a week the GOP is talking about.  She also blasted the Republicans for waiting until the late minute to finally propose a bill.

There are two new cases of COVID-19 being reported the past day in Chautauqua County... and, more than 11-hundred people under local, or domestic traveler quarantine.  That from Interim County Executive P-J Wendel... who says the new cases are both men, one in their 30s and the other in their 40s.  Wendel says there have now been 228 confirmed cases, while 207 have now recovered.  Wendel says there have now been 22,347 negative test results to date.

The regional American Red Cross is reporting shortages in all donor areas... including the need for convalescent plasma with the number of COVID-19 cases surging across the U-S.  That is blood that is collected from people who have recovered from the coronavirus, and have antibodies that might help patients currently fighting it.  Western New York Red Cross Spokesperson Katie Potter says there are some additional criteria for being able to give the plasma for COVID patients.

Potter says... so far... more than 1,000 plasma products have been collected and distributed in the state.  However... she says there are shortages now because of the surge in cases and hospitalizations.  In addition... Potter says they also have a general shortage of blood in the region... and, they need donors for that.  For more information on donating convalescent plasma... go on-line to Redcrossblood-dot-ORG/plasma4covid... and, fill out the form.  Potter says a Red Cross representative will call you back.  For regular donations... you can make an appointment at Redcrossblood.org and, enter your zip code.

Civil liberties groups are asking a state court to block New York election officials from enforcing a requirement that voters register 25 days before an election.  Representatives of the New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that they have filed a request for a preliminary injunction in their ongoing lawsuit first filed in November 2018 against the New York state Board of Elections.  The group argues that the 25-day cut-off left about 93,000 New Yorkers unable to vote in the 2016 presidential election because they registered after the deadline.  The Democratic-led Legislature and voting rights groups are pushing to make it easier for New Yorkers to vote in November. 

Local Congressman Tom Reed has some fond memories of late House member John Lewis... who is being recognized as a moral force for the nation.  Lewis was eulogized during a memorial service in the Capitol Rotunda... where his body lay in state until earlier today  The Georgia Congressman was lauded as "the conscience of Congress... and called a model of courage.  Reed recalled taking visitors around the capitol... and, introducing them to Lewis.

Reed says he had known Lewis since he was first elected to Congress 10 years ago and both were members of the House Ways and Means Committee.  In fact... the Corning Republican says late Congressman Amo Houghton told him to surround himself with good people in Washington... and, that included Lewis.  Congressman Lewis was born to sharecroppers during 'Jim Crow' segregation, beaten by Alabama state troopers during the civil rights movement and awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Pennsylvania is reporting more than 800 new coronavirus cases, as the state Department of Transportation extended the expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards and learner's permits to August 31st.  The grace period applies to cards that expired after March 16th.  The grace period had been scheduled to end this Friday.  Meanwhile, the state Department of Health on Wednesday reported 834 additional cases and 16 new deaths. 

Chautauqua County's two parks will reopen to the public, starting next Monday.  County Public Facilities Director Brad Bentley says they are: the Luensman Overview Park, which is located on Thayer Road in the Town of Portland... and, the Erlandson Overview Park, which is located on Oak Hill Road in the Town of Carroll.  Bentley says both parks will be open from 8:30 AM to dusk from August 3rd through November 1st of this year.  However... they will not have any restroom facilities open, and no large gatherings or organized events will be permitted until further notice at either park.  For more information... call 661-8417.