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WJTN News Headlines for Thurs., Jan. 13, 2022

No one hurt in Ripley house fire overnight...
Firefighters from multiple departments were called out to a house fire in Ripley early Thursday morning.  The fire on Loomis Street was first reported around 2:30 a.m.  Chautauqua County Emergency Dispatchers say Ripley received mutual aid from Westfield, Sherman and Crescent Hose Company from North East, Pennsylvania.  There were no injuries were reported.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.


County epidemiologist reports sharp spike in new COVID-19 cases...
The Chautauqua County Health Department's epidemiologist says we have never seen case rates this high since the start of the pandemic.  That from Bree Agatt who says the previous peak occurred in early Jan. 2021... at which time they were seeing 124 cases per day on average.  This past week, it was 265 cases per day.  There were 1,855 new cases reported for the period Jan. 2-8.  While 1,384 were currently active... she adds that only 28 people were hospitalized locally.  Agatt says the county has not received any official word about the Omicron variant, but people should assume its here.  She says, based on the local case numbers, people should understand it's here.  While she "doesn't have a crystal ball..." Agatt feels the county is not near the peak and the numbers will continue to climb.  She encourages residents to wash their hands, wear a well-fitting mask and to get vaccinated and boosted.


Pediatric COVID Cases jump, in part due to low vaccination rates...
Distrust, misinformation and other factors have combined to produce what authorities say are alarmingly low COVID-19 vaccination rates in U.S. children ages 5 to 11.  As of Tuesday... just over 17% of these youngsters were fully vaccinated, more than two months after shots for them became available.  There was a pre-holiday surge after the shots were introduced last fall, but the numbers have crept up slowly since then, and omicron's out-of-control spread appears to have had little effect.  One doctor says the low rates and rising hospitalizations among children are a "gut punch."


County officials hope to learn more today on Athenex plant acquistion by ImmunityBio...
Local officials hope to learn more soon about a Los Angeles, CA-area company's acquisition of global pharmaceutical company Athenex's Dunkirk plant in the coming days.  ImmunityBio, Inc. announced the agreement to lease the 409-thousand square foot biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility located in the town of Dunkirk Wednesday.  Chautauqua County Executive P-J Wendel says there will be a conference call today with company officials.  Wendel says "on the surface, it looks like a great opportunity."  Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas also believes the acquisition will benefit the local area... and will have a positive regional impact as well.  In making the announcement... ImmunityBio expects the transaction to close in the first quarter of this year.  Preliminary plans call for the company to produce COVID-19 vaccines.


City man escapes serious injury after being hit by car...
A Jamestown man escaped serious injury after he walked in front of a car in the downtown area... and, was struck early Tuesday night.  Sheriff's officers were called to the scene on Harrison Street shortly after 6 p.m., and, spoke with the driver of the vehicle -- 27 year-old Heather Chamberlin of Jamestown -- who said she was traveling on Harrison when the man walked out in front of her.  The man, identified as 53 year old Michael Szczepanski, was taken to UPMC Chautauqua Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.  Chamberlin was not charged.


JPD now believes missing man's disappearance resulted from foul play, more reward money put up to find Kevin Hornburg...
A $2,500 reward is now being offered for information about a Jamestown man who's been missing since just before Thanksgiving of last year.  The reward is being announced by Crimestoppers of Western New York for 57 year-old Kevin Hornburg... who was last seen leaving his home at 629 Prendergast Ave. about 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21 of 2021.  Police also say that foul play is suspected in Hornburg's disappearance.  Kevin Hornburg is a white male... about 5-foot-8 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds.  Family and friends have been circulating a poster with his photo around the area... and, they are also offering a reward.  Anyone with information on Kevin Hornburg's whereabouts or knows who's responsible for his disappearance can contact the Jamestown Police Department at 716-483-7537.  You can also leave an anonymous tip on the JPD Anonymous Tip Line at 716-483-Tips... that's 483-8477.