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A positive trend among Erie County's COVID numbers: discharges outpacing admissions

Office of the Erie County Executive

While restating that Erie County's COVID case situation is not that of New York City, where the numbers continue to show a downward trend from the apex, there was one piece of good news coming from the local stats. Hospital discharges are now outpacing new admissions. And now County Executive Mark Poloncarz has recommended to Albany that Erie County be included among the counties which can resume elective and outpatient surgeries.

Poloncarz opened his briefing by speaking of a new testing clinic which has opened, three days a week, inside the Leroy Coles, Jr. Library on East Delevan near Bailey.

"The 14215 ZIP code had the highest number of cases, and still does," he said. "It varied also with one of the other ZIP codes, but when you look at it and what we were seeing with regards to outbreak and East Side of Buffalo, we felt it was very important to put a testing site on the East Side of Buffalo."

Kaleida Health is conducting the testing inside, which is available by appointment only. Candidates were urged to find more information by visiting Kalieda's website or by calling 859-3222.

The county executive presented a breakdown of stats by ethnicity, age and gender, defending the practice.

"People wonder why we include this data. We've had some say that it's unnecessary. We believe it's necessary because it identifies where there are problem areas, and then we can go and look at where these individuals resided, if they reside in a particular ZIP code and particular neighborhood, are they located in a nursing home, are they located in a group home are they located in an assisted living facility."

Sixty-seven new cases since Wednesday were announced during Poloncarz's Friday afternoon briefing. In all, 2,738 positive test results have been reported in Erie County since the outbreak began. There was one reported fatality, raising the county's count to 198. Of the 221 patients hospitalized as of Friday morning, 112 were in an intensive care unit, including 84 receiving an airway assist.

But hospital discharges now outnumber new admissions. Poloncarz was asked about Governor Cuomo's statement earlier in the day that he'd decide "next week" whether to extend New York PAUSE beyond May 15.

"The governor's office has been in touch with me a lot. The governor and I have texted throughout, phone calls occasionally, but the biggest thing is we've tried to keep his office completely updated with what's going on here," Poloncarz said. "We are not New York City, we've said that for some time. We are also not as good as some of our peer groups, like we've seen with regards to the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas. However, we have seen a positive number with regards to the hospitalization, so much to the point that I made a recommendation to the governor's office today that hospitals should be considered for potentially doing elective surgeries here in Erie County. We have ample bed supply. And if we did start elective surgeries and it did appear that there was a ramping up of case loads, we could always just cancel those elective surgeries as they were scheduled. So I think we are seeing positive numbers."

Poloncarz also pointed out that when the governor decides to ease the restrictions put in place by New York PAUSE, it will not be done in one fell swoop.

"I think it'll be piecemeal," he said. "So we're just going to wait and see what the governor says, and that's why I'm continuing to have conversations with his staff, with the lieutenant governor, and it's also one of the reasons, based on the information and statistical data, why I made a recommendation to the governor to consider opening elective surgeries in our Erie County hospitals, effective next week."

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, earlier in the week, was named to observe ongoing COVID-19 case developments in Western New York as part of the governor's strategy to eventually allow more businesses to reopen, based on the trends in the state's ten Empire State Development regional economic zones.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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