Erie County approaching CDC threshold as ‘high risk’ area of COVID-19 exposure

Erie County is now at 92 new COVID cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period. The threshold of high risk is 100 new COVID cases over that same period.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Erie County has seen a 30 percent jump in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past week. 

That’s important because the county is approaching the CDC’s threshold of high risk of transmission.

As of right now, Erie County remains in substantial risk of transmission and masks are encouraged to be worn indoors in public places.

Right now, Erie County is at 92 new COVID cases per 100,000 people. If it gets to 100, the county by CDC standards would be an area of high risk area for exposure to the virus.

The New York State Education Department in its school reopening guidance recommends high risk sports such as football be virtual or cancelled in high risk areas unless everyone participating is fully vaccinated.

And there are questions about mask mandates.

We wanted to ask Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz about this Thursday after a news conference he was at, but we were told he had a Zoom conference call and was not available for interviews afterward.

His office did send us a statement saying there is no new info on any possible mask mandate. 

On high school sports, just a few days ago, Section VI told us this: 

“We had our state meetings two weeks ago and everybody across the state was on board in terms of moving forward with state championships and that’s the message we’ve been given out to our athletic directors in our communities here in Section 6 that we are moving forward with business as usual,” according to Mark DiFilippo, executive director of Section VI. 

In terms of COVID hospitalizations in Western New York, as of Thursday, about 100 people are diagnosed with COVID in local hospitals, much lower than at other points during the COVID pandemic, but four times higher than this time a year ago.  

What are people seeing on the hospital side of things in terms of COVID data? 

“We’re seeing the majority of people coming in that have COVID are not vaccinated. … There are people coming in that have had breakthrough symptoms. Remember, some of the times people are tested for COVID if they’re coming in for a procedure not because they have COVID symptoms,” said Mark Sullivan, CEO of Catholic Health. 

What are hospitals seeing in terms of hospitalizations that might be different from a year ago?

“That’s an interesting question. So right now, because there are no restrictions in New York State, everyone’s out doing what they wanted to do for the last year, so you’re seeing broken bones, you’re seeing lacerations, you’re seeing bee stings, so now the health system isn’t just taxed with a small number of COVID patients. But now everybody and their mother is out doing the activities they probably didn’t stretch for before they did, or they haven’t received services they should’ve received,” Sullivan said. 

Catholic Health says because of the region’s high vaccination rate they’re seeing fewer ICU patients and deaths.

According to CDC data on the state’s vaccine tracker, 70 percent of Western New Yorkers 18 years old and older are fully vaccinated and there continue to be efforts to reach more people. 

“The delta variant is just one variant, go through the alphabet the next one’s gamma, the next one’s lambda, so the more people we get vaccinated, the less likely that you’ll have a fatal illness,” Sullivan said.

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