BREAKING – EXCLUSIVE: Allegany County has recorded its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron BA.5 variant as the number of new positives continue at much higher levels than last year at the same time as new hospital admissions jump at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville.
The information comes from responses to our daily Freedom of Information (FOIL) requests to Allegany County, NY, government for localized information about the virus and its locations.
The first confirmation of the latest strain was received by the Allegany County Department of Health on Tuesday but was a Saturday, June 25, test. As of last week, BA.5 accounted for 58.8 percent of all cases in New York State, with BA.4 at another 17.2, for more than three-quarters total of all positives.
The state also reported that 10 other tested cases involved the BA.2.12.1 Omicron strain, between June 5 and June 22.
The two new variants are said to be the most easily spread strains to date and are able to evade immunity from both a COVID infection, referred to as natural immunity, and vaccination.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated and boosted to the extent authorized, however, are said to be in the best position to avoid hospitalization or death.
In the meantime, also in response to our FOIL request, we are able to identify that the Belmont and Wellsville zip codes had the most reported new cases last week at 10 each, with Bolivar at eight, Angelica and Friendship at six, Cuba at five and the remainder with lesser numbers.
For the first five days of this week, through Thursday, the Cuba zip code already had experienced five new positives, with another two at Belmont, and four each at Belfast, Houghton, Little Genesee, and Wellsville, with the scattered remainder in other areas of the county.
Last week’s total of 69, as we previously reported earlier in the week, is nearly 14 times that of the comparable week last year, as numbers have been recorded for weeks at much higher levels.
There have been 39 reported cases so far this week, as of Thursday.
All numbers since late last year, however, are considered understated due to the number of home tests being used, for which the state and federal government collect no information unless the virus is confirmed through a testing laboratory.
Allegany County does collect some information through a voluntary online reporting system. Even this addition, however, is showing a significant disparity between county and state/federal numbers, with the county reporting 12,309 COVID cases Thursday, since the start of the pandemic, with the state difference growing to 2,601 less, most of the variation having occurred since last last year.
The state also has recorded three deaths of county residents, one each during the past three weekends, compared with zero during all of July 2021.
Hospital COVID admissions also have moved up, according to the State Health Department, with six at Jones Memorial Hospitalnso far during July, with all but one of them between Tuesday and Thursday of this week.
As of Thursday, there were two individuals still hospitalized at the Wellsville facility, with all of this week’s cases occurring in patients 55-to-74 years of age.
There also were seven hospitalized at Olean General Hospital and three at St. James Hospital in Hornell.
Information isn’t readily available as to whether the hospitalizations and the new variant are related specifically.
Our chart of zip code locations within Allegany County where cases have been recorded over the past 12 days, as of Thursday, accompanies this story.
Allegany County is continuing to request that those testing positive through self or home tests enter the information at https://bit.ly/3zymEWF to aid in better determination as to the number of cases in the county and their general locations.
Various online COVID-19 Trackers, information from which may not agree with each other due to different reporting time frames, are available at:
– Allegany County Daily Cases – Under COVID-19 Updates: https://bit.ly/3ndrbZJ.
– New York State Department of Health COVID Tracker: https://on.ny.gov/31K0u7f.
– CDC Counties COVID Tracker: https://bit.ly/3GrWqHx.
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