By Rick Miller

Olean General Hospital is “in great shape” with regard to COVID-19, Upper Allegheny Health Systems officials said Tuesday. 

No confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in Cattaraugus County, Jeff Zewe, president and CEO of Upper Allegheny Health System, told reporters. 

Seven Cattaraugus County residents have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, while health officials are waiting for the results of 13 other tests. 

Confirmed cases in Allegany County and seven in Erie County mean COVID-19 is in the region and it is only a matter of time before it is on the doorstep. 

“We are expecting it to show up here in (Cattaraugus) County,” said Dr. William Mills, vice president for professional and quality issues at the two hospitals. 

“Our job is to keep it out of our hospitals.” 

Both hospitals imposed limited visitation policies that went into effect on Monday. Those who are admitted must answer a few questions about their travel history and be scanned for their temperature. The hospitals remain open for operations and medical procedures and therapy, Mills said. 

For individuals with coronavirus symptoms like a fever, cough or sore throat — or those with difficulty breathing — Mills urged them to call their physician first. Someone brought in by ambulance will be triaged before being allowed into the emergency room waiting area. 

Those with suspected COVID-19 virus will be isolated.

Olean General is not a testing center, Zewe explained. The hospital is getting many calls asking to be tested. Due to a shortage of test kits, only the county health department can authorize testing at this time. Testing on demand may be available sometime next week, Zewe added. 

Currently, testing is available only by those who returned from certain countries where COVID-19 is widespread and those who have been exposed to someone who is infected. 

Mills noted that without an antiviral medicine or vaccine to fight the virus, supportive treatment including rest, liquids, Tylenol, staying at home and self-quarantining are called for if someone is infected. The elderly and those with immune deficiencies are most susceptible.

“We are struggling like the rest of the country with supplies,” Mills said.