BUFFALO, N.Y. — For the second week in a row, Erie County has seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases, according to an update provided by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz at the weekly COVID briefing on Tuesday.
While the omicron variant has been detected the most in New York State, Erie County has yet to detect any cases of the new variant. However, Poloncarz said that it is expected to already be spreading through in the community.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein reported that the county has received a large supply of rapid tests from the state to use in schools as part of the effort to keep kids in school.
"They will be able to go the nurse's station right there and know if they will be able to stay in school of if they will have to go home because they have COVID-19," Burstein said.
As far as cases go, Erie County is doing better than the Western New York region with the lowest cases per 100,000 with a rate of 52.4 for the seven day average, as well as the lowest percent positive rate at 8.3% for the seven day average.
"Good job, Erie County residents, especially those that have been wearing masks. It make a big difference, keeps the rates down," Poloncarz said. "We know that the numbers in some ways should be higher in Erie County than any other county due to the fact that we have many more people living in a tighter area, we have a much more dense population than some of these other counties."
However, cases are expected to go up in the coming weeks as omicron continues to spread around the state and as people gather for Christmas. Poloncarz reported the omicron variant is three to four times more transmissible than other variants.
While the decline in cases has been good news, but on Dec. 19 all of the Catholic hospitals in Erie County did not have any ICU beds available.
Poloncarz continued to say he was a little concerned to see in reports that all of the ICU bed have been full at Buffalo General Hospital for the last few days.
The WNY region has been the only region in the area to see an average decrease in hospitalizations. Poloncarz says he believes that hospitalizations have been going down because of the mandate.
Burstein did report that people should not be relying on monoclonal antibody treatment as a way to fight COVID-19 should they get it. It is currently in very short supply and the treatment that received emergency approval that works for the omicron variant has not been delivered to the state in the past three weeks.