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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 19, 2020

Firefighters from a handful of local companies made quick work of a trailer fire in the town of Harmony about mid-morning Monday... saving many of the belongings of the family living there.  Assistant Ashville Fire Chief Mike Gleason says crews were called to the scene at 56-66 Diffley Road shortly before 9:30 AM.... and, found the trailer fully-engulfed in flames.  However...he says they were able to bring the blaze under control in about 15 minutes.

Gleason says they had most of the blaze out in about half-an-hour... and, crews moved to an overhaul operation.  However... he says some trucks had trouble getting to the scene initially because about 10 inches of snow had fallen.  Gleason says one truck got stuck, and a plow truck had to be called in.  He says everyone got out safely and no injuries were reported.  Gleason says an issue with a wood stove was the apparent cause of the blaze.

Officials at local ski resorts are welcoming the several new inches of Lake Effect snow... which brought out the skiiers on the Martin Luther King, Junior holiday.  Many resorts are now fully-open.  They include the Peek 'n Peak Resort near Clymer... where Issac Gratto is the new director of Ski Operations.  Gratto says they received about 6 to 8 inches of new snow late Sunday into Monday... and the sking conditions are "great."

Gratto says there are COVID-19 protocols in place... including social distancing... and, masks must be worn at all times unless you are eating in their restaurant.  If you are part of a group... he says you can ride the lift together.  But, if you are alone they will keep you alone on the lift.  Gratto says they're now open seven days a week at The Peak.  He says they're experiencing high call volumes right now... so the best way to get information, or reserve a ski ticket is to go on-line to pknpk.COM.  Otherwise... the phone number is 355-4141.

There have been no official totals released from the Chautauqua County Health Department since last Friday... due in part to the Martin Luther King, Junior Holiday on Monday.  However... the state Health Department is reporting the county's positivity rate from Sunday was 11.3-percent... with 81 confirmed cases out of 716 tests.  In addition... the state adds that the seven-day positivity rate is 10.3-percent.  That's the highest rate in the Western New York region.  The county's latest numbers will be released early this afternoon.

Frustrated by the flow of coronavirus vaccine from the federal government... New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday said is floating the idea of buying shots for residents from one of the vaccine makers.  Cuomo told the media during his press briefing that he had written the head of Pfizer... asking to buy vaccines to meet expected demand.  However... he did say the state had passed a milestone in the effort to vaccinate as many people as possible.

However... asking Pfizer to sell those vaccines is far from a sure bet... with the pharmaceutical giant saying it would need federal approval to sell to state governments.  If that were to happen, the cost and amount have yet to be discussed.  Regardless, Cuomo says he feels compelled to broach the idea because his state, like many others, has far more eligible residents than supply.

Cuomo Monday also pleaded with federal authorities to block travelers from countries where new variants are spreading.  He cited new versions detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.  A vast effort is underway to get Americans vaccinated, but the campaign is off to an uneven start.  The latest federal data shows about 31 million doses of vaccine have been distributed, but fewer than 11-million people have received at least one dose. 

The couple leading the campaign to fund the Star Hospice House in Lakewood has announceed they are very close to the final goal.   Dr. Bert Rappole says COVID-19 led to an increase in the dollars needed to assure completion.  Donations are being accepted at Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care on Fairmount Ave in Lakewood, or on-line at Mary Rappole says they are grateful the fundraising was not deterred by the pandemic.  The Star Hospice House will be a 24-hour, staffed residence for end of life care.  It is expected to open in June.