BUFFALO, N.Y. — Attempts to contain the second wave of COVID-19 washing over Western New York begins with virus testing. The data suggests the number of people testing positive continues to rise.
The state health department reports the seven-day average of positive tests in Erie County stands at 6.6%. That’s up from 5.7% just two days ago.
But a separate calculation of positive tests involves the counties yellow and orange cluster zones. Both zones cover the entirety of Erie County. Those seven-day averages as of Friday are 7.1% for the orange zone and 6.9% in the yellow zone.
Side by side, the two sets of calculations look like this:
How can state government different numbers for the exact same geographical area?
As 2 On Your Side first reported on Wednesday, all tests (positive and negative) in facilities where people live closely together and not used in the zone positive test calculation. That includes prisons/jails, nursing homes and colleges/universities.
All discarded when looking at zone positive test rates.
A state health department spokesman explains there was concern within the department that, given the restrictions that come with designated zones, a decision was made to exclude congregate settings to hopefully not skew numbers.
However, in Erie County, leaving out tests at the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College meant that thousands of negative tests were used in coming with the zone numbers. Just 109 positive tests between the two schools, and there were 18,820 negative tests.
In Niagara County, positive test numbers continue to climb. Countywide, the percentage of positive tests has risen to 5.5%.
In the county’s yellow zone, which is made up of the city of North Tonawanda, the positive test rate has jumped to 6.9% in just over a week. That’s a nearly 40% increase in positive tests during the time period.