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Erie County COVID-19 cases rise; WNY positivity rate at 1.56%

From July 19 through July 21, there were 113 positive COVID-19 cases reported to the Erie County Department of Health, according to a spokesperson.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — We're starting to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases again here in Western New York with the bulk of those cases coming from Erie County.

From July 19 through July 21, there were 113 positive COVID-19 cases reported to the Erie County Department of Health, according to a spokesperson.

Of those 113 new cases, 33 were fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, 10 were under age 12 — so not eligible to be vaccinated — and 70 were either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

The ECDOH spokesperson told 2 On Your Side these new cases are being reported from various communities throughout our area. 

For the Western New York region as a whole, the positivity rate has also been slightly increasing, to 1.56 percent as of Tuesday.

"While the numbers are low, it's certainly going in the wrong direction," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, chair of the planning team for WNY's vaccine rollout, about the rise in cases earlier this week, when the positivity rate was the exact same percentage it was on that day last year. 

You can watch the full 2 On Your Side Town Hall interview with Dr. Nancy Nielsen below:

However, Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, believes we're still in much better shape than we were a year ago. 

"The difference between now and a year ago is that cases do not directly translate into a certain number of hospitalizations and bad outcomes and that's because we've done a pretty good job in vaccinating our most vulnerable individuals which are those that are most likely to develop serious disease," Dr. Russo said. 

The message from local medical experts and county officials is still to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.

"The key thing here is, please, if you're unvaccinated, get vaccinated because the Delta variant has sort of increased the stakes and increased the risks for those who have yet to get jabbed," said Dr. Russo. 

According to state data, the Western New York region as a whole reported 51 new cases Tuesday, July 20, with 41 of those cases coming from Erie County.