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COVID-19 Makes Headlines Even When Cases Waned | News, Sports, Jobs



Dr. Thomas Simonian was recently pictured in a room in the emergency room at UPMC Chautauqua. Simonian, director of the emergency department at Jamestown Hospital, shared his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. PJ photo by Eric Tichy

Editor’s Note: This is the third of five stories that highlight some of the most read stories in the Post-Journal of the past year. Today’s series focuses on COVID-19.

COVID-19 didn’t seem to make a wave for months here in Chautauqua County – especially when the weather warmed last spring.

But colder weather, two flavors of the COVID-19 virus, and a surge in cases have brought COVID back to the foreground of any discussion from the back of our collective minds. However, one look at the stories that caught readers’ attention reminds us that we have been looking at COVID-19 and its aftermath year round, even as cases hit their lowest levels.

January and February were among the worst months of the pandemic for Chautauqua County. COVID-19 cases decreased over the summer before resurfacing in the fall. But even more than the virus itself, it was the response to COVID-19 policy that has been controversial over the past year. Below are some of the areas that post-journal readers are most interested in.


Matthew Kahm, General Manager of Shults Auto Group in Jamestown, is pictured at Shult’s Nissan Subaru on Fluvanna Avenue. A global shortage of computer chips has made it difficult for auto dealers to get new inventory at a time when many consumers are looking to buy. PJ photo by Eric Tichy

One of the first threads that led to the final resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo came with a report from Attorney General Letitia James that New York may have underestimated COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents by up to 50%.

The controversy arose from the March 2020 order that recovered COVID-19 patients should be returned to nursing homes. Republicans and many Democrats said the order resulted in thousands of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes as the virus spread like wildfire through facilities, with Cuomo and his aides doing everything in their power to increase the number Downplaying deaths.

Investigators examined a sample of 62 of the state’s approximately 600 nursing homes. They reported 1,914 resident deaths from COVID-19, while the state health department recorded only 1,229 deaths in the same facilities. If the same pattern existed nationwide, according to James’ report at the time, it would mean the state under-reporting deaths by nearly 56%. Part of the gap was explained by a decision by the New York City Health Department to exclude from its count the number of nursing home patients who die after being transferred to hospitals. Hospital and nursing home officials say the state has easy access to that number.

The battle for an accurate number of deaths in nursing homes continued throughout the year on both sides of the political corridor. One of those efforts came from Senator George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, who was on oath with his fellow Sen, then-Health Commissioner for Health Howard Zucker, how the count went, who was involved, and other major decisions related to it Pandemic response by the state.

“Even though our new governor has promised to remove those involved in the corruption and scandals surrounding the Cuomo administration, one key figure is still there, making decisions that will affect the lives of New Yorkers: Dr. Howard Zucker. “ said Borrello, a member of the Senate’s Aging Committee. “The revelation that 12,000 deaths were not counted in the official census is only the first step in bringing this issue to full transparency and accountability. This must be followed by an investigation into the circumstances and the actions taken by Commissioner Zucker. New Yorkers deserve answers. “


Dr. Robert Daniels of Lane Women’s Health Group has practiced in Jamestown for 41 years. He said he had never before seen a situation like the one in September.

Daniels and other providers of Lane Women’s Health Group in Jamestown provide OB-GYN care to the community, including UPMC Chautauqua’s maternity and delivery department with hospital staff. He said the New York state mandate mandating vaccination of health care workers has implications for hospital staff.

“Unfortunately, as in the rest of the country, we have a shortage of nursing staff.” he said. “I think seven out of 32 nurses quit because of this mandatory COVID stuff. I think they are trying to re-admit two or three of them, but the lack of care is being felt across the hospital and across the state. It is absolutely unique. We have never seen anything like this in mandates or in the public health sector. “

Although there was no restriction on labor and delivery at the hospital, Daniels said the burden on hospital nurses was obvious.

“Usually that’s fine, but when you start out with a lean nursing service, it can be a bit overwhelming.” he said.


Local dealerships have not been immune to a global shortage of computer chips that has resulted in fewer vehicle deliveries while more people want to buy and take to the streets.

This means that the few vehicles that arrive are often sold before they even reach the parking lot.

“Well, we are seeing that the new car inventory is being hit dramatically due to the microchip shortage.” said Matthew Kahm, general manager of Jamestown-based Shults Auto Group. “That has an impact on the entire auto industry. It started about four months ago when cars were being built and the microchip inventory dried up, which reduced production. “

Kahm saw cars and trucks being sold in some places, but not Shults, well above the sticker price. He said the problem is multi-faceted: demand, supported by consumers who have increased sales revenues from the global pandemic, is at “An all-time high” he said, as did the microchip shortage that forced most automakers to cut production.

“Never in my years of service have I seen new car prices as they are now.” said Kahm, noting sparse lots that were usually filled for the summer rush of consumers. He has also sold several vehicles that have yet to reach the dealer.

The chip shortage also affected Cummins Inc., which operates the Jamestown engine plant in Busti.

Tom Linebarger, chairman and CEO of Cummins, told investor analysts in November that he expected the semiconductor shortage to persist into next year, while calling for increased domestic semiconductor production to provide supply chain security to automotive and engine manufacturers.

“Which of course we really needed in the USA, because we need a local semiconductor production facility that is geared towards the automotive industry.” said Linebarger. “I don’t want to be a mess with this, but strategically it’s kind of a nightmare that we just have. All of these semiconductor wafers come from pretty much one factory or group of factories in Taiwan, and we are a very small part of that company’s production. This is not the ideal situation for a supply chain. “

The United States once accounted for 40% of the world’s chip manufacturing; now it’s 12%. The cost of manufacturing a chip in the US is 30% higher than in Taiwan and South Korea.


Liz Witherspoon and her family, Jamestown residents, spent most of the summer enjoying regular activities – summer camp for the kids, spending time with loved ones and others “normal” Activities.

Little did she know that one of her children would get incredibly ill with COVID-19 towards the end of summer.

Witherspoon’s daughter, 12-year-old Lilly, contracted COVID-19 in late August, which sparked a cyclone of high fever, increasing illness, emergency rooms and sleepless nights that led her to a hospital bed at Oshei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.

“My mother kept texting me saying, ‘She says she has a headache’, ‘She says she doesn’t feel well'” told Witherspoon. “I asked her to take her temperature, and her temperature was immediately 102 degrees. I left the workout I was in and went to her place to hang out with. She didn’t act like herself; When she got symptoms, it was 0 to 60. There was no in between. “

From that day on, Lilly’s temperature never dropped below 102 during her eight-day illness.

Witherspoon said it was wise to be careful when it comes to COVID-19, but not to overdo it.

“I think it’s about finding a middle ground in this unfair environment.” Witherspoon added. “It feels unfair to be a parent, it feels unfair to go through it when you don’t have sick children, but it feels even more unfair to go through it when you have a sick child. It feels unjust wherever you are, and I hope no one ever has to feel the injustice that comes from having a very sick child. “


Dr. Thomas Simonian, director of the emergency department at UPMC Chautauqua, has never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic in his career.

“Wow – can you quote that? Impressive,” he said. “This is the first time in my career that something like this has happened. I thought I had seen almost everything and was shocked and impressed by this virus that is rampant in our communities. I’ve seen many people who otherwise wouldn’t get medical care get so sick that they have difficulty breathing – all because of this virus.

Simonian said he was concerned about another high point in the vacation. During the pandemic, Simonian said the emergency room had been called into question “store.” Boarding refers to patients who are admitted and who would otherwise be accommodated in another room in the hospital, remain in the emergency room. Simonian said patients often stay in the emergency room for days.

“We have more people going into our emergency room and one reason is the trickle-down effect of COVID patients in the hospital who are otherwise occupying beds and another part of it is that, like the rest of the country, we are having some trouble.” “Keep staff next to the bed.”

However, Simonian said he sees “Light at the end of the tunnel.”

“You just have to believe that in your heart” he said. “We’ll get through this. You just keep trying what you started when you went into health care and taking care of the patients one by one, trying to take care of yourself when you can. “

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Women’s Health

‘An amazing resource’ | Breast and GYN Health Project helps those with cervical and other gynecologic cancers – Times-Standard



Genie Brady spent part of her vacation in an emergency room in May 2018. Returning home to Eureka, she checked in with her doctor, then a gynecologist.

Shortly thereafter, Brady, now 41, was diagnosed with stage 1A or early stages cervical cancer.

“It was a big shock,” said Brady, who works for a mortgage loan solutions company and has an interest in Humboldt Roller Derby. “…I had moved here for school, so I didn’t have my family[here]. The support system I had was friends I had accumulated through school, roller derby and work. It wasn’t something I could talk to anyone about right away. I had just gone through a cancer situation with my surrogate who died from it and even when you catch it early there are all these feelings.”

Looking for support, Brady turned to the internet and found the Breast and GYN Health Project (BGHP), a local nonprofit that serves as a community resource for support and education for those dealing with breast or gynecologic cancer issues.

“I googled and looked for a support group and they were the first to come up, so I reached out and got all their glorious benefits,” Brady said.

The project’s services, which are offered at no cost, include a patient navigation program, support groups, information specialists, volunteers, an extensive resource library, and more.

“The (Breast and GYN Health) Project helps people with breast or gynecology cancer by providing a lot of education. We can help explain things your doctors might tell you. We can help them come up with questions they might want to ask,” said Madelin Amir, Director of Customer Services. “We help them before, during and after diagnosis and treatment.

“With cervical cancer,” Amir said, “they sometimes need special treatment from a gynecologic oncologist. If they or local healthcare providers need help locating them, BGHP can help. We also have a support group for people with any type of gynecological cancer. Although they may have different types of cancer, women with these types of cancer usually have common experiences.”

Rose Gale-Zoellick, executive director of the Breast and GYN Health Project added, “Although we do not provide medical care at our facility, clients will find the education that both Dr. Mary Meengs (Medical Advisor) and Madelin Amir, very helpful. Madelin is a Registered Female Health Nurse. Her experience and training is useful in educating and supporting people living with gynecologic cancer.

Rose Gale-Zoellick is executive director of the nonprofit Breast and GYN Health Project. (Courtesy of BGHP)

“Although cancer diagnosis and treatment have improved significantly over the years, the social and emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis has not changed significantly over the past 25 years. The statistics that every eighth woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime have not changed either. Local cancer patients still have a great need for the cancer support services that the BGHP offers,” said Gale-Zoellick.

In addition to receiving a special binder to keep her medical records and appointments in order, Brady said BGHP helped her find financial support resources for transportation and housing when she went to her doctor’s appointments in Santa Rosa.

“The biggest thing for me is (however) the self-help group. While you’re in the middle of it, it’s just a decision, decision, decision — and when you get past that, you have to deal with all the losses and gains — there’s still a way to go,” said Brady, who attends the support group for young women and the gynecologic cancer support group.

“Being able to laugh and cry and bitch and feel heard and to be a part of others who have been on this journey, even though it may not be quite the same, it’s (so) helpful,” said Brady. “…There’s a bit of different information in both groups, but both are amazing groups of women. It’s such a gem, an amazing resource. I’m so glad it’s here.”

Brady – whose treatment included a total hysterectomy – says she is now a “cancer survivor” who wants to make sure the breast and GYN health project is available to those who need it.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the people at BGHP are hoping to be educated about this less common type of gynecologic cancer.

“Endometrium, which is the same as uterus, is the most common gynecological cancer, and next comes the type of cancers that are grouped together and called ovarian cancer…and then below that would be cervical cancer,” said Dr. Mary Meengs. Medical advisor to the BGHP and breast cancer survivor.

The American Cancer Society – – estimates that there will be more than 14,400 new cases of invasive cervical cancer in 2021. (Cervical progenitors are detected far more frequently than invasive cervical cancer, she noted.) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two screening tests that can help prevent or detect cervical cancer early: the Pap smear (Pap test ) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test. Getting the HPV vaccine—and not smoking—can also help prevent cervical cancer.

“These two things (Pap smear and HPV vaccine) in both early detection and prevention are so dramatic,” said Meengs, who co-chairs the Breast Cancer Support Group and the Advanced Disease Support Group. “…Work with your provider and see when a Pap smear and/or HPV test is due.”

Amir added: “It is really important that women have routine Pap tests and if they have an abnormal Pap test that they are followed up as recommended. It’s not uncommon for women to sometimes feel embarrassed when they haven’t had pap for a long time. Don’t be afraid to get checked out, even if it’s been a long time. Life gets in the way and we do our best. I encourage women to follow up as recommended if they have an abnormal Pap test. Ultimately, early treatment can help save your life. If you find you have gynecological cancer, the BGHP is here to support you. You don’t have to do this alone.”

The Breast and GYN Health Project helped 335 people in 2021. Eight of those people had cervical cancer, Gale-Zoellick said.

“In 2020, BGHP helped four people with cervical cancer,” she said. “We believe the increase is due to local ob-gyn and ob-gyn offices learning about our services and making recommendations, not because more women are developing cervical cancer.”

For more information on the Breast and GYN Health Project, visit or call 707-825-8345. The BGHP office is located at 987 Eighth St. in Arcata.

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Women’s Health

For Your Health for Jan. 17, 2022 | Journal-news



SCH expands free community COVID-19 testing

MARTINSBURG — Shenandoah Community Health is expanding its free COVID-19 community testing hours. The PCR test is now available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:00pm without an appointment or order via the drive-thru test tent at 99 Tavern Road.

This service is available to SCH patients and non-patients alike, and results are typically received directly from the lab within 24 to 48 hours.

Healthy Berkeley announces new health and wellness app

MARTINSBURG – Health Berkeley has announced the launch of the Change Your State app to bring health and wellness to local communities.

Focused on the areas of mind, movement and food, the app is designed to provide a wealth of resources for community residents.

App resources include blog posts, workouts, healthy recipes, and meditations. Users can also track their daily goals and earn points for completing those goals. All participants who accumulate a minimum number of points each month participate in the monthly prizes.

There will also be a Change Your State Facebook page and a weekly Change Your State podcast for those who don’t have a smartphone.

The free app will be available to download from January 8th in the Apple and Google Play Stores by searching for “Change Your State”. The App Challenge runs from January 15th to April 15th.

For more information, contact Abby Veigel at or Dana DeJarnett at

WVU Medicine offers a safe walking program

MARTINSBURG – Walk with Ease, an Arthritis Foundation-certified program to share strategies for safe and comfortable walking, will be held at the Berkeley 2000 Center, 273 Woodbury Ave. offered in Martinsburg.

The program will be offered from January 25 to March 3, 2022 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. All participants receive the Walk With Ease Guide Book, and the program is free and open to all.

This structured, six-week walking program is designed to help people with arthritis better manage their pain, but anyone can participate and benefit from the program. Based on research and tested programs in exercise science, behavior modification and arthritis management, Walk With Ease has been shown to reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis, increase balance, strength and walking pace, build confidence to be physically active and improve the general health.

Walk With Ease is a structured walking program that provides support, information, and tools to help participants develop successful exercise routines. During the program, participants will learn proper stretching and pain management techniques, as well as building endurance and walking speed.

Pre-registration for the Walk With Ease program is required and places are limited. Masks are suggested and social distancing will be followed. For more information or to register, call the Berkeley Extension Office at 304-264-1936 or contact Dana DeJarnett at 304-264-1287, ext. 31814 or Before beginning any exercise program, always consult your doctor.

Free National Diabetes Prevention Program Kit

WINCHESTER, Va. – Valley Health is offering new sessions of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a free 12-month course designed to help adults at risk of developing diabetes who are willing to make lasting lifestyle changes. One group meets virtually on Mondays from 12-1pm and the other meets in person on Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30pm at Warren Memorial Hospital

To be eligible for the National Diabetes Prevention Program, individuals must be overweight, not have a diagnosis of diabetes, and have one or more of the following: Elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes, physical inactivity, and a history of gestational diabetes.

To learn more, visit or call 540-536-5108 for the virtual program or 540-636-0314 for the in-person program at Warren Memorial Hospital.

Tai Chi begins at Berkeley Senior Services

MARTINSBURG – Tai Chi takes place on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. at Berkeley Senior Services on the High Street. Casual clothing and masks recommended.

For more information, call Eldon at 304-264-4783.

Good Samaritan Free Clinic schedule

MARTINSBURG – The Good Samaritan offers free health care for the uninsured and underinsured. The main clinic is located at 601 S. Raleigh St., Martinsburg. They do not keep appointments and look after the family doctor’s practice in all clinics except for the women’s health evening.

The opening hours of the clinic are:

• Wednesdays at 5pm

• First Tuesday of the month at 5pm

• Women’s Health Clinic on the third Tuesday at 5 pm

• Rescue mission every Monday from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm.

Visit for more information.

Living Well program manager training

MARTINSBURG – Free leadership training for a program to help people cope with chronic illness will be held via Zoom from January 19 to March 2, 2022.

Leaders help others learn the skills they need to manage their chronic conditions and improve their quality of life. No prior teaching or healthcare experience is required, just a willingness to help others improve their health.

Executives must attend all seven weeks of free training to be certified. The first session will take place on January 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Two meetings will be held every Monday and Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for the next six weeks until March 2nd.

For more information or to register, contact Dana M. DeJarnett at 304-264-1287 ext. 31814 or Registration closes on January 14th.

Virtual Chronic Pain Self-Treatment Program, new session announced

MARTINSBURG – Living Well, a Chronic Pain Self-Management Program, is a weekly workshop designed to help individuals coping with one or more chronic pains learn to take daily responsibility for their care, improve skills, needed to manage their pain and work effectively with their doctor.

A new Zoom workshop begins January 20th and will be held every Thursday through February 24th from 5pm to 7pm. The six-week program is interactive, informative and entertaining and offers the same content as the face-to-face workshop.

Living Well is free and open to people with chronic pain and other pain-related health issues. Everyone can benefit from learning the skills to coordinate all of the activities needed to manage their health and help them lead full and active lives.

Attendees will need a computer, phone, or tablet to access Zoom. The device must also have a camera and microphone. A quiet place and a stable chair are also recommended for the beginning of the lesson.

To register or for more information, contact Dana M. DeJarnett at 304-264-1287, ext. 31814 or Registration closes on January 18th.

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Women’s Health

New Jersey Gov. Murphy signs bill preserving abortion in state law



NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Thursday that will enshrine abortion rights in state law.

The US Supreme Court last December heard arguments on two cases in which some predict abortion rights will be escalated to the state level to decide.

“Regardless of whether the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade or not, New Jersey’s position in support of the right to reproductive autonomy will remain clear and unchanged,” Murphy said during a signing ceremony in Teaneck, New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a Get Out The Vote rally October 28, 2021 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
(Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Murphy had pushed for the law, but it stalled in the Democrat-led legislature as the majority faced voters in November and then faltered from the loss of six seats in the assembly and a net loss of one in the Senate.


The bill does not include a requirement for insurance coverage for abortion, which some advocates have campaigned for, but empowers state banking and insurance departments to study the issue and make new regulations.

A pro-life protester protests outside the Supreme Court building on the day of hearing arguments in the Mississippi abortion law case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021.

A pro-life protester protests outside the Supreme Court building on the day of hearing arguments in the Mississippi abortion law case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

The New Jersey bishops expressed “deep disappointment and concern” at the passage, saying in a statement that it “openly effaces the human and moral identity of the unborn child.”


So far, only New Hampshire has passed new legislation since the Supreme Court hearing: The state will ban abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger.

An anti-abortion activist participates in a protest outside the Supreme Court building in Washington December 1, 2021 ahead of disputes in the Mississippi abortion law case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.

An anti-abortion activist participates in a protest outside the Supreme Court building in Washington December 1, 2021 ahead of disputes in the Mississippi abortion law case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

But 12 states have enacted “trigger laws” aimed at restricting abortion immediately once the Supreme Court makes its decision and potentially overturns Roe, including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Four other states — including Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia — have pre-Roe abortion laws that they would re-enforce, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a gender rights research group.

“What happened was that it all coalesced around the fact that the Supreme Court has a real chance to weaken or overturn abortion rights, and now it was time to introduce those legal protections,” he said Elizabeth Nash, State Policy Analyst at Guttmacher.


Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have policies that specifically protect abortion rights, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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