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Experts say our social behaviors dictate when Western New York will hit its peak

“I think that things are gonna get back to normal when the number of new infectious cases approaches zero," said Dr. Thomas Russo.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — As we navigate through the COVID-19 outbreak, we've heard about the 'peak' from several local, state and federal leaders. 

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the nationwide peak will be April 15. For New York State, that projection is Wednesday, April 8.

2 On Your Side asked Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, what that means for us in Western New York. 

He said, “I think that model is mostly applicable to downstate. I think the timing of the peak, the magnitude of the peak, the flattening of the curve in Western New York is very different.”  

As for when Western New York will hit its peak, Russo said that's hard to tell at this point. 

“I think the great news is looking at the data over the last few days, clearly we’ve been flattening the curve and the doubling time for new infections is really approaching almost five days which is fantastic news," he said.

Russo added, “There’s also a hint and I think the keyword here is hint that we may be plateauing as well, but I think over the next few days will be critical to really see if we’re approaching our peak, if we’ve hit our peak and are on the backside of the curve or if we’re still sneaking up a little bit. We’re just gonna have to wait and see."

Experts believe what dictates the number of new cases is our social behavior and complying with public health measures like social distancing. Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein is urging people to remember that heading into a holiday weekend. 

Burstein said in a daily coronavirus briefing, "Going to a big church service or going to a big family seder could result in people dying and that’s not the point of religion. We just have to respect the situation that we’re in and just stay at home, stay in small groups and stay safe.”  

So when can we plan our lives returning to normalcy?

“I think that things are gonna get back to normal when the number of new infectious cases approaches zero," Russo said.

He said we just don't know when exactly that will be yet, but he believes if we stay vigilant, that day will come sooner rather than later. 

RELATED: Erie County reports 39 COVID-19 related deaths

RELATED: WNY peak for COVID-19: Worst case scenario is late April with over 10,000 people hospitalized

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