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Erie County COVID deaths up, more vaccine clinics canceled

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Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein (top left) at Monday's COVID-19 briefing.

New analyses of COVID-19 data in Erie County shows more people have died in the last four months from the virus than in the first six months of the pandemic.

Data released by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz Monday showed more than 52% of the county’s nearly 1,500 deaths have occurred since Sept. 23. White county residents are also dying out of proportion to their percentage of the population in the last four months, compared to Black residents in the first six months.

Poloncarz said the trend is reflected in small city, suburban and rural COVID cases.

"White individuals that have really been struck hard by COVID-19 with regards to cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the last four months," he said. "I do believe that it has a lot to do, also, with the disproportionate amount of individuals who were impacted by COVID during the first portion of the pandemic. African Americans were much more impacted."

Credit Screenshot / YouTube
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (top left) at Monday's COVID-19 briefing.

Positivity rates range from 0% in Bowmansville, Marilla and North Collins to 13.6% in East Concord, followed by 9.4% in Holland and 8.8% in the Black Rock/Riverside section of Buffalo. Lackawanna and several other Buffalo neighborhoods are also at least 8%. The lowest positivity rate in Buffalo is 3.1%, in the 14209 zip code of North Buffalo.

Total numbers also show women with more cases of the virus than men (see below). Experts have noted that women are more often in essential jobs, like health care, schools and restaurants, and are more often the caregiver of family and loved ones.

Credit Erie County Department of Health

The big weapon against all of this remains vaccines. The county is actually getting fewer doses than in the first weeks of the program and is being forced to cut 1,300 scheduled vaccinations this week because of limited supplies.

Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said the county received only 1,700 doses from the state this week, which are enough to honor appointments Thursday at both the Erie Community College North and South locations, and Friday appointments at ECC South only. Saturday appointments at both ECC North and South will have to be rescheduled.

In total, 1,290 people are affected. Burstein said they will be contacted by phone for a future spot at an Erie County clinic site. She added that they can also try and get an appointment elsewhere if they can.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.
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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