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What COVID-19 brings to the 2020 holiday season

frankieleon / Creative Commons

The joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas are looking dim right now, as the COVID-19 situation gets worse. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will say Monday if the lid is coming down again on parts of the community which have rapidly rising COVID totals.

COVID-19 has been rising lately and the positivity rate in testing is showing that. On Sunday, state figures reported 271 new cases locally and four deaths on Saturday. The positivity rate on tests was 3.3% on Thursday, 4.3% on Friday and 4.8% on Saturday.

Cuomo told the ABC-TV program "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" the outlook is bad.

"We're coming up to the worst two months, I think, that we may have seen vis-a-vis COVID," Cuomo said. "You see the numbers going crazy all across this country, all across the globe. Scientists said this was going to happens and you're seeing it in the Fall with the cold coming back, and we're going to have a long two months."

The governor said Joe Biden's inauguration is too far in the future to affect what happens, but he said states that have been denying the virus will face the worst futures.

University at Buffalo Epidemiologist Dr. John Sellick said the cold winter will make things worse.

"During the summer, everybody was outside and there was less spread and I think that we became a little bit complacent," Sellick said, "And now that it's getting colder and it's getting darker earlier and everybody heads indoors, we're starting to see more spread of the virus than we had been seeing during the summer."

Sellick,a professor of medicine for the Jacobs Medical School and an epidemiologist for the VA Hospital and Kaleida Health, said standard precautions have to be standard for everyone.

There is COVID all around. Niagara University is grappling with dozens of new cases, in fewer than 10 days. Associate Vice President for Public Relations Tom Burns said the school has been pushing hard for safety and students have been cooperating. He said this appears to be the classic issue of community spread.

"They're also out in the community. They're working in the community. A number of our students commute back and forth, every day, so they're not bubbled. We know that is certainly how this thing can spread at times. Our students have been doing all the right things," Burns said.

Burns said there is no evidence of off-campus parties or those long dorm bull sessions.

Students will go home for Thanksgiving and won't return until the start of next semester, delayed by SUNY until Feb. 1. There will be no spring break, just four days off scattered through the semester.

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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