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Holiday had less-than-expected impact on coronavirus illnesses, hospitalizations

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Erie County
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Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz presents the latest COVID-19 data Wednesday.

Erie County remains on the pathway to moving into the next phase of re-opening New York, even with problems involving hospitalizations. That is the word from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, even after the Memorial Day holiday.

To move into Phase 2, Erie County has to continue to meet the goals of the reopening. Hospitalizations and deaths are key metrics in the process.

Poloncarz said there was concern about bad behavior over Memorial Day potentially pushing up the rate of people getting seriously ill enough to need hospitalizations.

"The last two days, we've had, unfortunately, more admissions than discharges, though it is still a little bit smaller than where we would have to worry about potential increases in hospitalization knocking us out of the metric the state uses and the prior five days actually had significantly more discharges than admissions."

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Credit Erie County
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The county executive said the latest data on those getting ill indicates a change in demographics.

"This has really gotten very close to what the population averages are for Erie County," Poloncarz said. "For a while there, African Americans, blacks, had made up nearly 33% of all deaths, which was ridiculous, considering they make up less than 15% of the population of our county. But now we're actually trending to where it really is much more in line with the population averages."

He said the latest data on deaths shows there actually have been more deaths outside of the City of Buffalo than in the city, a change in fatality trends.

Poloncarz also talked about the thousands of antibody tests conducted in Erie County. He said results show nearly 8% of county residents have been exposed to the virus.                 

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Credit Erie County
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"It tells us that there probably is between 7-8% of the population in Erie County that has either, currently, COVID-19 or contracted it in the past, and that should give us a little pause when we think about things because that means there is about 92% of the population in Erie County that has not contracted the virus," he said. "It is still out there. We are still testing for it and we're still finding positive cases."

As the county lists nearly 48,000 tests, those tests for the virus have turned up nearly 5,800 cases of those who have had the swab up their noses. Scientists say there are probably more not spotted and that is why the antibody tests add to the virus picture.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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