© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Erie County not immune from rise in COVID cases, deaths

A chart showing the rise in COVID-19 cases from the week ending 6/19/2021 to 7/24/2021
Erie County Department of Health

COVID-19 is coming back in Erie County, with the number of cases and deaths quadrupling over the last six weeks.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz held his first COVID briefing in weeks Tuesday to talk about the rising numbers, even as around two-thirds of county residents over age 12 have been fully vaccinated.

He said there are particular problems on Buffalo's East Side — with the highest rate in the University District's 14215 zip code — and areas of the northtowns, and the discrepancy between vaccinated and non-vaccinated residents is showing up in deaths.

"There are 190 individuals who died since April 1 through July 22 who were Erie County residents. We can definitively say of the 190 who have died, 182 were not fully vaccinated prior to infection, which is 96% of the deaths," Poloncarz said.

A chart showing the Erie County zip codes with the most COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 24, 2021
Erie County Department of Health

He said the heavily transmissible COVID Delta variant is present in the county and there have been "breakthrough" cases of fully-vaccinated people found to have the virus.

"We know people are getting sick with COVID who have been fully vaccinated. They are breakthrough cases. We have breakthrough cases in Erie County. We can 100% confirm that," he said. "These individuals are not very sick. They are not hospitalized, but they are getting sick and they are getting tested and their tests are coming back positive for COVID-19."

Poloncarz said a plan to have people on the ground in the 14215 zip code, "basically walking door to door," was rejected by the County Legislature. So the county is looking at other measures, in cooperation with its healthcare, like the Health Equity Task Force and the African-American Health Equity Task Force.

A graph showing the rise in hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 for Jul12-25, 2021
Erie County Department of Health

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.