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Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

Cuomo, Poloncarz address COVID-19 concerns in WNY

"We have the highest contraction rates of COVID-19, the coronavirus, in all of New York State," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Thursday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Leaders on a state and local level continue to raise concerns when it comes to Western New York

"We have the highest contraction rates of COVID-19, the coronavirus, in all of New York State," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in a news conference Thursday.

Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo, believes we're still at a reasonably low level, but at this point he said we don't want the situation to get any worse.

Dr. Russo told 2 on Your Side, "We know that mask usage and physical distancing works in preventing new cases and we just need to continue to do that."   

Governor Cuomo addressed his concerns on a call with reporters Thursday.

"I think the people of Western New York have to realize that if they don't follow social distancing, the precautions, the virus will increase. That's what we're seeing. If the virus increases then it leads to curtailed economic activity," said Cuomo.

Cuomo also mentioned, "We've seen places across the country where they reopened. They didn't do the social distancing, they didn't do the masks, the local governments didn't do the compliance, the virus went up, and then they had to scale back the economic activity. That is what you are looking at." 

Later in the afternoon, Poloncarz told reporters, "I don't want to see these businesses get shut down. I want to see us safely open so that we can open even more so that maybe restaurants instead of being at 50 percent capacity could go up to 60 percent capacity and then 75 percent capacity. That's what I want to see, but New York is not going to allow that if our numbers keep going up." 

Dr. Russo said heading into a holiday weekend, we should continue to be vigilant. 

He explained, "Since we haven't been doing as well the last two weeks as we were for most of the summer, what that means from the functional point of view, is that if you have a gathering with people outside of your social bubble the likelihood that someone who comes to your party is infectious is much, much greater now than it was a couple of weeks ago." 

We reached out to the governor's office to ask specifics on what would lead to rollbacks on reopening and we haven't gotten a response yet.