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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 13, 2021

There's been a 45th death in Chautauqua County from the COVID-19 virus reported today... along with 126 new cases of the virus.  County Executive P-J Wendel says there have now been 5,131 total cases.  Wendel says there are 707 active cases... and, 42 of those are currently hospitalized.  He says there are 28 new cases in Jamestown... and, 20 in Dunkirk.  Officials add that 4,379 cases have now recovered.

Late Tuesday... Wendel expressed ongoing concern over the recent spike in cases from the recent holiday season.  He says his COVID-19 Response Team is monitoring the situation... and, says for the most part... residents have done a "great job" in adhering to state and CDC guidelines.  However... with this increase in "community spread..." he urged people to continue social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding gatherings.

Governor Andrew Cuomo again expanded the vaccine eligibility requirements in New York to include anyone 65 or over.  Cuomo said Tuesday the state's following new federal guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  He says people who are age 75 - and up and a much longer list of workers, including transit employees, grocery clerks, teachers, police officers, firefighters and others became eligible to get the vaccine Monday.

In another development... Cuomo says there appears to be a flattening of the post-holiday spike, something that health experts didn't expect until later in the month. New York is increasing access to an already short supply of doses being distributed through an overtaxed system some users have found time consuming.

There were 50 new cases reported Monday in Cattaraugus County... bringing their total number of cases is now 3,073.  Leaders say there are 451 active cases, and 41 of those are hospitalized.  The county says 61 people have died from COVID-19 related illness... and, 2,561 have now recovered.

Post-COVID-19 reconstruction in New York state will involve the use of rapid testing to allow businesses and the arts to reopen while vaccinations are ramped up.  That from Governor Andrew Cuomo during the second-part of his State of the State Address Tuesday in Albany.  Cuomo says the state used a pilot program at last Saturday's Buffalo Bills play-off game.

Cuomo says they plan to work with local realtors to open up additional rapid test centers to allow people can be tested hours before going to patronizing a business, or going to a social event.  He also proposed a New York Arts Revival program with "pop-up" performances around the state beginning February 4th.  Cuomo also noted the need to recognize the "remote economy..." and the need to expand broadband services.  He wants to make the Internet more affordable for poorer New Yorkers. Currently... Cuomo says the average rate for Internet service is more than 50-dollars a month.  He reiterated that 98-percent of New Yorkers have access to the internet.  Cuomo also proposed a Post-COVID Economic Commission to plan for jobs of the future.  

While Governor Cuomo's State of the State message Monday addressed a number of challenges facing New York State, a state lawmaker from the area feels more focus belongs on what he calls the state's culture of overspending.  State Senator George Borrello said Tuesday that, while the the federal government has a role to play when it comes to assisting the state with it's $15-billion deficit... he says the state must cut spending.
Borrello says he is glad to hear the Governor say that the state cannot afford another state-wide shutdown... and, is looking at ways to reopen safely.  However... the Sunset Bay Republican says the damage caused by the state's spring shutdown was "catastrophic" and will take years to recover from.

Gas prices in the Jamestown-area have begun rising to pre-pandemic levels... increasing about six-cents over the past 10 days.  That from the East Central Triple-A's gas report... which says the price has increased from nearly $2.36 a gallon to about $2.42 a gallon.  Triple-A says... at 2-dollars-31 cents... the national gas price to begin the week was the highest in 10 months.  Pump prices have increased despite a drop in demand.  Triple-A says the rising prices can be largely attributed to a tightening supply and rising crude oil prices, which are outweighing decreasing demand.