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Amid COVID spike, vaccinations increase at some locations, still stagnant at others

'It hasn't been an avalanche of interest over the vaccine but it is definitely on the upswing and I think that is likely to even grow in the coming weeks and days."

BUFFALO, N.Y. — According to the Erie County Department of Health (EDOH), the county is now experiencing 'substantial' community transmission of COVID-19 based on guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC).

As a result, starting Saturday, July 31, anyone entering an Erie County building or facility must wear a face mask. The mandate applies to all employees, vendors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. 

The Health Department also "strongly recommends" that private establishments open to the public require masks indoors, but that is not a mandate.

ECDOH has confirmed 99 new COVID cases for July 29, making for a total of 496 new cases within the past seven days.

With all these updates, 2 on Your Side wanted to see if there's been any significant change in the number of people seeking a test or vaccine.

We reached out to a wide variety of places that administer tests and vaccines, or one of the two. The responses they're seeing to the latest COVID spike have varied. 

Right now tests aren't being administered at Black Rock Pharmacy but when it comes to vaccines Managing Partner Bradley Arthur said the spike in interest is certainly noticeable.

"It hasn't been an avalanche of interest over the vaccine but it is definitely on the upswing and I think that is likely to even grow in the coming weeks and days," said Arthur. "I think we're getting people that are a little afraid, to be honest with you. They're a little afraid of what they're hearing. They're a little afraid of the increase in the positivity rates. So we went from a full-blown vaccine clinic model to a walk-in model several weeks back and now we may return back to a clinic model."

He added, "As people are learning more about the spread of the virus, as they hear more about higher positivity rates, those people who had been reluctant to get the vaccine, are now coming in and asking if they can get the vaccine." 

However, it's a different story for some other locations. 

Dr. Raul Vazquez, a physician with Urban Family Practice, told 2 on Your Side, "Right now what I see is, the trend of testing is going up and the vaccination rates are coming down and those are not two good curves." 

He said the focus should still be figuring out ways to make getting the vaccine as convenient as possible.

"We're gonna have to change the model because I don't think hospitals and offices are gonna be able to do this. We have to get on the ground. We're gonna have to go door to door. We're gonna have to make it mobile," said Dr. Vazquez.

A spokesperson with TOPS said at this point they have not seen an influx in requests for the COVID vaccine.

Meanwhile, Wegmans has seen a very slight uptick in vaccines recently. 

When it comes to the number of Erie County residents getting tested, there was a slight increase last week over the previous week, from 11,979 to 12,481. However, compared to earlier this spring, that's still a modest number. For example, there were more than 58,000 diagnostic test reports for the week ending April 17, according to a spokesperson with the Erie County Department of Health.