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Cuomo: 'WNY is not good news'

The New York State Department of Health conducted 6,400 rapid COVID-19 tests and there was a 4% positive rate for the WNY region.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday during a conference call that the COVID-19 positive rate in WNY is not good news.

The New York State Department of Health conducted 6,400 rapid COVID-19 tests and there was a 4% positive rate for the WNY region from those tests.

Gov. Cuomo says the rapid tests were not random and that most people seeking tests believed they had been exposed to the virus. 

Here is the breakdown of the positive cases from the rapid testing. The City of Buffalo had a 5.9% positive rate, Chautauqua County had 4.5% positive rate, Niagara County had 2.8% positive rate and Erie County, not including Buffalo was 2%.

While the state's efforts to do rapid testing ended, Wednesday, officials say they will lend counties the rapid testing machines so they can continue to quickly identify positive cases. 

Gov. Cuomo also urged localities to step up enforcement and compliance of the guidelines. 

"I think they have to take this very seriously" said Cuomo. "I think the local governments need to step up their local enforcement and their compliance. I think the people of WNY need to realize that if they don't follow social distancing precautions, the virus will increase that's what were seeing. If the virus increases then it leads to curtailed economic activity."

The WNY Region has been dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks at a food processing plant in Chautauqua County, a steel plant in Erie County, nursing homes and most recently local colleges. 

The percent positive COVID-19 tests for September 2 in the WNY region was 1.8%.  The seven-day rolling overage is 1.6%. Daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in the WNY region was 35 for September 2.  That is the sixth consecutive day it has been above 30.

Officials in Chautauqua County are asking residents to take additional precautions to further prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The county says from August 16 to September 1 there have been 56 cases of COVID-19 from employees at Fieldbrook Foods Inc.  

“With the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 at Fieldbrook Foods Inc. in Dunkirk and now at the State University of New York at Fredonia, we are calling on all residents for their support by following the recommended safety precautions,” said PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County executive. 

“Our public health staff has been working tirelessly to isolate those testing positive and identify and quarantine the close contacts of all positive cases so we can help contain the virus, but we need all county residents to do their part by being responsible citizens and following preventive measures 24/7. Not only are we working together, we are in this together and we need everyone’s help especially with the upcoming Labor Day Weekend.”

Nearly 25 percent of the new COVID-19 cases in Erie County range in the age of 20-29 years, according to Erie County Health officials.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the majority of the college students who have tested positive for COVID-19 recently attended house parties. He says many were showing symptoms when they were tested.

The county health department is working with colleges for testing.

Poloncarz said Erie County is partnering with Homeland Security, the Erie County Sheriff's Office, the Buffalo Police Department and others to shut down any house party attended by 50 or more people.

"If we get reports of these large off-campus parties and find out they are violating the rules, we are going to show up there and you could be cited," Poloncarz said.

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