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Indoor mask requirement could be coming to Erie County this week

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Zoom/Michael Mroziak
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Dr. Thomas Russo

A requirement for indoor mask wearing could be coming to Erie County as soon this week, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

The Centers for Disease Control have been issuing the requirement in places where COVID-19 cases are trending upwards.

Erie County is currently in the moderate increase zone, but an uptick in positive cases over the last few weeks has the county trending towards the range of significant transmission.

University at Buffalo Infectious Disease Professor and Chief, Dr. Thomas Russo said the significant transmission designation will come quickly if the community refuses to take precautions.

“Everyone is playing big time social catch up,” he said. “‘I thought this pandemic was over’ — put themselves in riskier situations indoors or crowded circumstances outdoors. That's largely driven the cases that we've had.”

And the spread has largely been through the unvaccinated.

“We've been using the honor system and it’s clear that at least in certain parts of the country, in certain venues the honor system really hasn't been getting that done,” Russo said. “So the mask mandates is primarily about making sure that the unvaccinated wear masks in high risk scenarios where we know this virus spreads very well.”

He said the best tool for continuing to fight the pandemic is getting as many people as possible vaccinated.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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