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Where is Erie County headed as COVID-19 cases keep climbing?

'We do expect hospitalizations to increase,' Poloncarz said, adding that 'the infection rate is seeing a rapid growth.'

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein provided an update into Erie County's COVID-19 efforts on Thursday.

During the virtual briefing, Poloncarz shared that new cases across the county are popping up everywhere. He shared where the new cases are being reported by zip code.

Poloncarz stressed numbers in graphs he shared on Thursday were for last week, November 1 to November 7, and that numbers for this week will be released when the week ends.  However, he did say the number of positive cases for this week has already exceeded last week's numbers. 

There were 11,855 people who were tested on Wednesday in the Western New York region, and 652 were positive. Of those positive results, 512 were in Erie County, and the percent positive in the county was 6.4%. The seven-day rolling average of new cases per 100,000 residents in the county is now 38.

Credit: WGRZ

"We do expect hospitalizations to increase," Poloncarz said, adding that "the infection rate is seeing a rapid growth."

Poloncarz shared he also expects the infection rate to increase as the week goes on. A large portion of the county is already in what the state has deemed a Yellow Zone, where the infection rate is cause for concern

But given the current trend:

"At this rate, it's almost inevitable that we're going to be in the Orange Zone very soon, and perhaps the Red Zone, and obviously that's going to involve the curtailment of a number of activities that we've been enjoying," University at Buffalo infectious diseases expert Dr. Thomas Russo told 2 On Your Side on Thursday.

Poloncarz even stated during the press conference parts of Erie County could already qualify for Orange or Red Zone distinction but said the state hadn't announced a timeline for more potential more rollbacks like the ones seen below.

Credit: Forward.NY.gov

In the following graph, Poloncarz stressed that in the past six weeks, the weekly average for percent positive COVID-19 cases increased from 1.3 percent for the week ending October 3 to 4.6 percent for the week ending November 7.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gail Burstein shared her concern with the rise in cases saying, "there will be exponential explosions in hospitalizations if we don't act now."

Burstein is asking the community to stay home and hunker down, similar to what happened during the early stages of the pandemic, in order to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

In the map shared by Poloncarz below, Dr. Burstein explained hospitalizations (in the dotted blue line) are showing a rapid increase.