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400 new cases in one day: No, COVID isn't over in Erie County

A screenshot from Wednesday's briefing
Erie County
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz discusses the latest COVID-19 numbers Wednesday.

COVID isn't going away. That was clear Wednesday during a briefing by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

Poloncarz said there were 400 new cases Tuesday, and there are serious problems among those 30-39 years old and in the adolescent group, where only half of the young people 12-17 are fully vaccinated.

Burstein pleaded with people and parents of the young to get vaccinated.

"The 12-17-year-olds who are not vaccinated have the highest COVID-19 case rate of any age group, whereas the 12-17-year-olds who are fully vaccinated, they have the lowest case rate of COVID-19 of any age group," Burstein said. "So this vaccine is very effective, especially among adolescents."

A green and blue chart of student and school staff cases
Erie County Health Department

The county executive said there is a lethal guidepost. He cited rising death tolls, larger than before vaccinations.

"We have had more deaths. If you look at August of this year, 41 deaths. August of last year, 11. September of last year, 18. This year, 55. October of last year, 31. This year, 54, which, of course, will probably get over 60, by the time we finish this month," he said.

Poloncarz said that's a very bad indicator, as people move inside for the colder weather. Last year, 149 people died in November from COVID.

A screenshot from Wednesday's briefing
Erie County
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz discusses the latest COVID-19 mortality data Wednesday.

On Sunday, when requirements to attend Buffalo Bills games tighten to full vaccination, Poloncarz said there will be 40 county sanitarians checking vaccination cards and ID outside the stadium, with backup.

"They can immediately confirm whether or not someone has ID. Someone who is presenting as Mark Poloncarz, who is fully vaccinated, is Mark Poloncarz and he's fully vaccinated," he said. "So we will have more than 40 sanitarians there who will have direct access to staff that will be positioned elsewhere, to confirm whether these individuals are who they say they are and whether they are fully vaccinated."

Based on case investigations, the Health Department is also reinforcing safety recommendations for child care centers:

  • Masking for all staff and students over 2 years of age
  • Health screening on entry and reminding staff and children to stay home when ill
  • Reporting COVID-19 cases to the ECDOH
  • Standard handwashing, cleaning and sanitation practices

To encourage mask use within child care centers, the Health Department is offering adult- and child-size disposable face masks to facilities in the county. Facilities can for non-school-age children can email schools@erie.gov before Nov. 3 to request an order.

WBFO's Marian Hetherly contributed to this story.

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.