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Erie County declares State of Emergency; schools closed

Erie County Executive Mark Polonzarz has issued a State of Emergency as of noon on Sunday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County health officials are discussing the first cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19 in Erie County. 

Erie County Executive Mark Polonzarz has issued a State of Emergency as of noon on Sunday. 

All Schools in Erie County will be closed on Monday.  Teachers and Staff are still to report.  Further discussions will be held on Monday to decide on further closures. 

Poloncarz also gave some details on who is infected:

A female in her 30's, who traveled out of state tested positive for coronavirus. She is currently in quarantine at a private residence. 

A male in his 30's who recently traveled to Westchester County, one of NY's hot spots, tested positive for coronavirus. He is currently in quarantine at a private residence. 

A female in her 20's who recently traveled to Italy tested positive for coronavirus. She is currently in quarantine at a private residence. 

None of the three were hospitalized. We know three of people are located in Buffalo, Grand Island and Clarence and have no connection to each other. 

The county tested 36 total cases on Saturday. Thirty three of those cases were negative. There are currently 59 people in Erie County in quarantine.  58 of those cases are voluntary.  One of those cases is involuntary. 

151 people have completed quarantine. Health officials says these numbers will change daily. 

Erie County residents can call 716-858-2929 with COVID-19 questions.

Poloncarz says he will ask the legislature for $5 million to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo says he needs more information on what the money will be used fore. 

As of Sunday, there were 729 cases confirmed across New York.

Three New Yorkers have also died from the virus - all had other underlying health conditions.

The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness.  

Schools in Orleans and Genesee counties have already closed.  Buffalo Public Schools officials say the plan is still to schools closed to students on Monday, with teachers reporting. They say the plan could change following the press conference. 

Health officials encourage people to practice social distancing, keep you work areas clean, wash our hands thoroughly.

If you're sick, you're asked to stay home, call your doctor first.

If kids are sick, do not send them to school, call their doctor.

Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hand.

Do not touch your mouth, nose and eyes.

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Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus 

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, hot your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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