Local News Headlines

WJTN Headlines Fri., Feb. 12, 2021

A-P finds more than 9,000 recovering COVID patients were released to nursing homes under Cuomo's order...
More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York state were released from hospitals into nursing homes under a controversial directive that was scrapped amid criticism it was accelerating outbreaks.  That's according to new records obtained by The A-P.  The new number of over 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients sent to hundreds of nursing homes is more than 40-percent higher than what had been previously released by the state health department.  And, it raises new questions as to whether Governor Andrew Cuomo's March 25th directive helped spread sickness and death among residents.  That's a charge his administration disputes.


Borrello and other GOP lawmakers continue pressing for full investigation of Nursing Home deaths following controversial statements by Cuomo's secretary...
State Republican lawmakers are continuing to press for an investigation into the Cuomo administration's handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.  The New York Post is reporting that the secretary to Governor Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, admitted to withholding the state's nursing home death data because of concerns over a possible federal investigation. DeRosa has now issued a statement, saying -- quote -- "I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first.  We informed the houses of this at the time.  We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout."  Republican State Senator, George Borrello of Sunset Bay, is among those pushing for an investigation.. and, had this reaction to the Post's story.  Borrello says some Democrats released the information because they're upset after "covering for the governor" to hear what DeRosa said.  She concluded by saying that "as I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked.  But we are committed to being better partners going forward."  State Attorney General Letitia James issued a report last month that indicated that the State Department of Health had undercounted the number of nursing home deaths due to COVID by up to 50-percent.


County, city COVID-19 numbers down, Whitaker comments...
Most of the key indicators about the COVID-19 virus continue to trend downward today in Chautauqua County.  The county's Health Department reports 43 new cases today... bringing the total to 7,213.  However... officials say there have been five new deaths, bringing that total to 134.  They add, though, that the seven-day infection rate is now down to 3.2-percent... the lowest in many weeks.  Jamestown School Superintendent Kevin Whitaker says it's also good news that the numbers continue to fall in the city... and, says that gets them closer to getting students back in school full-time.  The school district reported two new cases in the past day... and, there were 18 new cases in the city overall Wednesday.  The county reports there are also 229 active cases... and, the number of hospitalizeds remains 27.   There have now been 6,850 cases that have recovered.


COVID numbers in Cattaraugus County also falling...
There is also a downward trend in COVID-19 numbers in Cattaraugus County... though the number of confirmed cases is over 4-thousand now.  The Health Department reports 28 new cases the past day... and, the total is now 4,049.  There were no new deaths, so that total remains 82.  Officials say there are currently 249 active cases, and 24 people are hospitalized. 


Westfield school board member calls on state to loosen school music program restrictions...
The immediate past President of the Westfield School Board says it's time for New York to loosen its restrictions on music programs.  Steve Cockram says "if the state believes you can have high risk sports... you can ease restrictions they put on the music program."  Cockram believes the current '12 foot rule' for music rehearsal and performance is "unworkable" and needs to be shortened to six feet.  He says masks are now available for every musical instrument... making it safe to play together at a reasonable distance, and the same is true for a chorus.  Cockram says there are special masks designed to allow people to sing safely.  With the support of the entire Westfield board and administration... Cockram has written the governor requesting the change.  He wants other districts and school boards to get on the 'band wagon.'


City sees spike in number of Heroin/Fentanyl overdoses, and deaths the past two months...
An alarming increase in the number of drug overdose emergency calls, and deaths is causing concern for both Jamestown police and firefighters.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says the problem has mainly been the need by some for pain killers -- mainly heroin -- since people may not be agle to get another prescription.  However... Samuelson says it's being cut with another deadly drug -- Fentanyl.  He says that's accounted for about 99-percent of the problem... but, he adds there are others, too... including crystal methamphetamine.  Samuelson says the overdose issue has been a growing problem fed by a number of factors... including injury, being out of work due to the pandemic, and addiction.  He says the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force, along with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, are trying to crack-down on the supply coming into the area.  Samuelson says anyone with information on illegal drug trafficking can call their tips line at 483-TIPS, that's 483-8477.  You can also use the Tips 411 app.  For help with drug abuse, contact the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County at 661-9044.  The county has also established a one-stop website at Combataddictionchq.com.