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Case rise demands attention

This upcoming holiday weekend could be the most pivotal three days in Warren County’s battle with COVID-19 since the middle of March and the month of April when the pandemic began. Already, as this newspaper has reported, there has been one positive case in our schools.

That did not take long.

According to the county’s map on Thursday, there have been six new cases since Tuesday. That’s a significant increase when there has only been 34 in total.

As this space has noted in recent weeks, this region is far from being a hot spot. Still, any type of spike in cases — especially at this time — is concerning.

It starts with our schools, which opened this week. Additional traffic and congregating in buildings can bring increased cases.

In the business sector, a number of companies had targeted more employees returning to the workplace after Labor Day. Who knows if that is still the case.

Restaurants, which had been struggling with reduced capacity, will begin to lose the customers from outdoor seating as cooler temperatures begin to arrive.

Summer’s end here is usually bleak, but never this much of a downer. Right before the leaves change, this time of year is almost a new beginning as classrooms fill with students while sports fans savor the start of football season — from high school to professional.

As optimistic as we may want to be, any rising case numbers will have an eerily similar sense to the screeching halt in our lives that we all experienced in the spring.

Across the border, Chautauqua County is dealing with a runaway train at this time. Through Wednesday, there have been a total of 442 cases reported in Chautauqua County since the first positive case on March 23. That equals more than 2 1/2 cases per day over 163 days.

Even more startling are the recent results. On Aug. 21, Chautauqua County reported 286 confirmed cases through the pandemic. Since then, there has been a 55% increase in cases — an added 156 — or an average of 13 infections per day.

Most of the recent outbreak comes from two factors that are in the northern sector — the Fieldbrook Foods ice cream plant in Dunkirk and the State University of New York campus at Fredonia. There, on Friday morning, there were 50 cases — already 16 more than right here.

Warren County cannot get complacent. Schools are a huge bench mark in moving continuing to have a lifestyle that resembles something pre-pandemic.

There is no one path or trail out of this COVID-19 forest that has engulfed our world. No one has the perfect answer at this point. Cases, unfortunately, will continue.

What we need, as has been said more than once, is to reduce the spread. This call to action depends on individual responsibility — in the community and through our schools.

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 253.

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