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Health & Wellness

COVID numbers continue upward trend in Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz discusses the rise in COVID-19 numbers during his briefing Wednesday.
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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz discusses the rise in COVID-19 numbers during his briefing Wednesday.

Week by week, the COVID-19 total in Erie County continues to rise, even as the percentage vaccinated slowly rises.

In a briefing Wednesday, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the death toll is also looking very bad. Last year in the depths of the pandemic, 31 people died that October. With final totals not out yet, 68 died last month.

Poloncarz said hospitalizations are also expected to get worse as people huddle up for winter.

"The sad part with the increase in hospitalizations, just in the last four or five days, that generally means we're going to see an increase in deaths in, probably, ten days," he said. "When your hospitalizations go up, ICU numbers go up, usually, within 10 days to two weeks thereafter. So I am very concerned that we will see an increase in deaths about a week and a half from now."

Erie County deaths from COVID-19
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Erie County hospitalizations for COVID-19
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Now there will be vaccination for those ages 5-11. Of those eligible at the end of last week in the county, around 70% are fully vaccinated. Around half of those in the county between 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated.

Asked about the contentious issue of testing kids in schools or quarantining them, County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein offered an alternative.

"This all goes away. This all becomes irrelevant if students and staff are fully vaccinated. And nobody has to be in quarantine and we don't have to think about doing any type of test-to-stay option," Burstein said. "Again, this all goes away and, hopefully, this week, 5-11-year-olds will be able to start getting vaccinated."

Erie County student and school staff COVID cases
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Erie County vaccinated residents
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Poloncarz was asked about wearing masks.

"If you're at home, with your family and your kids, if you've been around them all the time, it's different than going over to the in-laws' house where you maybe saw them four months ago and you're having a big turkey dinner. I'd be careful," he said. "We are seeing a lot of new cases of COVID-19 in our region and people are dying from it, including, as we noted, two under the age of 40 in the month of October alone."