Hospital official says COVID-19 likely here

An official with Upper Allegheny Health System said Thursday that he believes COVID-19 is already in McKean and Cattaraugus counties, but added that isn’t cause for alarm.

Dr. William Mills, senior vice president of quality and professional affairs for the parent company of Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean (N.Y.) General Hospital, told the media in a call on Thursday that the hospitals stand ready.

“My personal opinion is we probably have it here now, but I can’t guarantee that because of the delay in testing,” Mills said. “What we do in the interim, if we have people we are suspicious of, we treat them as if they are COVID-19 positive. We have none yet because we don’t have that confirmation, but we have people who most likely do have it.”

There are 96 people quarantined in Cattaraugus County, Mills said, but added that the Pennsylvania Department of Health does not release specific numbers about quarantines or patients who have been tested and may be waiting on results.

He said UAHS officials have spoken to U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., who said there are no positive cases in the entire 15th district, which includes McKean County.

He added, too, that BRMC has not seen the number of cases of sickness that Olean General has seen. Laughing, he said, “The hope is maybe the folks in Bradford are a little smarter than the folks in Olean and are doing the social distancing more.”

On a serious note, Mills said if the virus is in the community, it isn’t prevalent to the extent that the community should be worried. He added again that people should follow the CDC rules for social distancing and hand washing as a precautionary measure.

Testing is still being performed through the states’ departments of health, he explained, and tests are in short supply.