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Poloncarz asks for holiday sacrifices, lack of gatherings

The Erie County Executive wants people in Erie County and Western New York to give up family gatherings for Christmas and New Year’s to help prevent COVID spread.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As the saying goes, it’s a “big ask,” but Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is asking.

He wants people in Erie County and Western New York to give up family gatherings for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to help prevent COVID spread.

“People are going to be with their family on Christmas. We know that people are definitely going to want to be in church on Christmas or Christmas Eve. It’s a tough situation, but we’re asking people once again to avoid these small gatherings outside your own family unit,” Poloncarz said in Thursday afternoon’s COVID briefing.

Poloncarz and Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein point to recent data of hospitalizations following Thanksgiving. As expected there was a spike in positive tests and people needing hospital treatment for COVID, but the increase was less than projected.

And there’s been a recent trend in hospitalizations declining slightly. Poloncarz attributes that to people taking to heart appeals to not gather for the holiday.

Recent data shared by the New York State Health Department identifies indoor gatherings as the top cause of COVID cases.

The Erie County Executive acknowledges that giving up gatherings with family and friends is a large part of the holiday season, but doing so this year he says will help make sure more area residents are here to celebrate with next year.

The seven-day positivity rate is 6.1% for Erie County. Poloncarz says hospitalizations have leveled off, but the number of hospitalizations is still much higher than they were at the highest levels in April.

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