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Coronavirus cases rise, county shuts down 2 restaurants

Photo from Poloncarz's Facebook Live video

As the month of March draws to a close, New York is reporting some stunning coronavirus statistics. On Sunday, March 1st, there were still no confirmed cases in New York. Today, there are more than 52,000. 728 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19.

Erie County provided updated numbers Saturday night. 380 county residents have tested positive, 411 in all eight counties of Western New York. Seven area residents have died, six in Erie County, one in Wyoming County.

Erie County has shut down two bars and restaurants for violating the ban on serving food and beverages in-house. They're only supposed to be open for take-out or delivery. The County Health Department ordered the closing of the Swannie House in Buffalo and AJ's Clarence Hollow. At his Saturday Facebook Live news briefing, Poloncarz warned other restaurant owners to comply with the state order.

"People are calling and letting us know about this. We're going to send out our public health sanitarians and sheriff's officers. If you're violating the law, we will shut you down," Poloncarz said. "You are putting your employees at risk. You are putting your patrons at risk."

The owner of AJ's is taking full responsibility. Al Toralti told the Buffalo News his small staff was overwhelmed by fish fry take-out orders Friday. He said patrons began congregating as they waited for their orders with some opening their take-out drinks to consume.

Any penalties, including loss of their liquor license, will be determined by the State Liquor Authority.

Kaleida Health says it received a shipment of more than 20-thousand isolation gowns Saturday morning. Officials say they're leveraging their supply chain channels to make sure their hospitals maintain the appropriate supply of personal protective equipment. Kaleida is now requiring its staff, vendors and visitors to wear masks when in proximity of patients and other staff members.

Mayor Byron Brown has closed the Bird Island Pier from Broderick Park to the Peace Bridge until further notice. In his Saturday update, Brown said the path is too narrow to safely practice social distancing. He said all city parks remain open for passive use.