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State senator says it's up to citizens, more vaccinations to stem latest COVID surge and end pandemic

Sean Ryan
File Photo

As COVID infection rates were rising in Western New York counties, State Sen. Sean Ryan echoed the sentiments of Erie County officials, who have said they don’t want to return to public safety mandates but might have to if necessary. Ryan says the problem includes local government inaction and a portion of the public who continues to flaunt rules meant to curb COVID spread.

The Erie County Health Department on Friday posted statistics on COVID infections that were updated through November 18. On that date, 774 new cases were reported. The daily infection rate as of the previous day stood at 9.5%.

“We are getting ourselves into a pickle in Western New York. We keep having some of the highest infection rates in New York State,” Ryan said in Buffalo Friday. “If you look down at Cattaraugus County last week, it had infection rates up into 12%. But then you look at their vaccination rate. And the same with Allegany County.”

As of data posted Friday, the daily infection rate in Cattaraugus County was up to 17.4%, with a seven-day average at 12.1%.

He says while state legislators have removed many of the powers from the governor and returned them to local governments, some local governments have not done enough to stem the spread of coronavirus.

“With the exception of Erie County, very few local governments have acted,” Ryan said. “No local governments have put rules in place about bars and restaurants and masks or vaccinations. And a lot of local county governments and surrounding counties have barely done anything to promote vaccinations.”

Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted Thursday that the state had reached 80 percent vaccination. Ryan says if residents want to see the COVID pandemic end, more need to be vaccinated.

Another problem facing the public, he suggests, is the remaining portion of those who are unvaccinated are shunning rules including masks in public places.

“And by not following those rules, they're infecting other members of the community. They're impacting the ability of schoolchildren to get educated. They're impacting the ability of our economy to keep growing and prospering,” he said. “We've got a cohort in America who believes, while they're even in the ICUs, that vaccines and COVID is some sort of farce.”

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.