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Erie County health officials answer coronavirus questions

No one has tested positive for the virus in Western New York.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Monday night people had a chance to ask the experts any questions they had about coronavirus at a community forum in Buffalo.

It was an opportunity for people to take their questions about coronavirus right to the experts — the people at the front lines who stress that while we don't have any cases here in Western New York yet, it's likely only a matter of time until someone here tests positive.

So far, eleven people have been tested in Erie County for coronavirus. All of the tests have come back negative. And dozens of people are quarantined as a precaution, so naturally people have questions.

"We have no cases of this virus, but if somebody did hypothetically, how would they be treated besides being quarantined and their temperature taken?" Asked one audience member.

"The treatment is basically supportive care," said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. "Some people have no symptoms, or minimal symptoms, and some people, as I mentioned such as our seniors, people with other chronic health conditions, and smokers can become very, very ill very quickly, so they would need more medical support."

"Would you recommend that households be prepared with thermometers, face masks, hand sanitizers? Should we purchase these things now, or do we wait until the epidemic hits?" Asked another woman.

"Those are all good things to have. If you have an ill person in your household, you'd want them to mask-up if they have to go outside," said Burstein. "You'd want good disinfectant if they have to share a bathroom."

And someone wanted to know what would happen if somebody had the virus and refused treatment.

"If we find that that person is not compliant, we would take them to a place where we can ensure that they would be compliant, so we have the law on our side and we, I, will enforce that," said Burstein. "I do not want the rest of the community exposed."

Erie County put together a list of frequently asked questions - from what you should do about travel plans - to what cleaning products you should use at home. 

The county says it will release the number of people who are quarantined every Friday.

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