Breaking News
More () »

Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

Erie County releases new information about child care centers, COVID-19 cases

Erie County officials on Tuesday listed daycare centers as a place being investigated for COVID-19 clusters. We got more information about those cases on Thursday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As part of their weekly COVID-19 press briefing, Erie County leaders said case investigations were happening involving places such as youth sports leagues, restaurants, churches, small businesses, and daycare centers.

A child care center owner asked 2 On Your Side to look into this, and we got answers from the county on Thursday.

We asked the Erie County Department of Health for information on how many cases have been traced back to daycares, whether the spread happened at the daycares or at home, and if the cases were in children or adults who work at the day cares.

That's all information that Faith Yocum is looking for too.

Erie County has traced COVID cases back to youth sports, day cares, restaurants, churches, and small businesses. BUFFALO, N.Y. - According to New York State, the seven-day rolling average for Erie County is 5.4 percent, and that number has county leaders concerned. Erie County officials held their weekly COVID-19 press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"My concern is that daycare centers, like a lot of other businesses, are struggling significantly since last year through COVID because of low enrollment. Things have really started to turn back around. However, what I couldn't find online were any statistics to back up the statements that a lot of the new cases are stemming from day cares," Yocum said. 

Yocum owns Little People's Park Day Care Center in Amherst, and she says since the pandemic began, she's only had one COVID incident.

"We've only had one case of exposure in the last year that resulted in anybody having to quarantine, and that was because of parent negligence. They violated our COVID protocols and continued to bring their child, even though there was a positive parent, so that parent is no longer welcome here," Yocum said.

Her staff is following strict protocols and hasn't seen any recent cases.

Here's what we were able to find out from the county.

A spokesperson for the Erie County Department of Health told 2 On Your Side that on Tuesday, Dr. Gale Burstein shared general observations from COVID-19 case investigations. The spokesperson says within the past two months, the county's contact tracing team has investigated about 100 cases with child care center involvement.

She also said though a source of infection may be suspected, that is not the goal of contact tracing. The goal is to break the chain of transmission by getting close contacts into quarantine.

In child care centers, she says contact tracing has managed cases of both children and employees, and some parents have sent their kids to day care sick. 

So, the county's message for both adults and children is to stay home if you are sick, and if you have symptoms, get tested.

"It's probably the only place you go where there are groups of people that don't wear masks. So for parents who are already struggling with the fact that they need to send their children back to daycare, to put information out there that just says one of the sources of spread is care centers, like, why is that different now than it was a year ago, or even six months ago?" Yocum said.

Yocum also has a long waiting list and says it is challenging right now to find new staff members. She says this is on top of it already being tough for parents to find open spots for their kids pre-COVID in Western New York.

"I actually had a tour this morning for a family who came, and their business is starting to come back, and they're also struggling to find employees, so mom has to go back to work in the business, and now they can't find day care for their child, and we're full in that age group, so it is a big struggle," Yocum said.

The ECDOH spokesperson also said that it is not possible to pinpoint an exact source of infection for many cases especially with the high rates of community transmission right now.

As coronavirus continues to spread across Buffalo and Western New York, WGRZ is tracking daily cases, hospitalizations, deaths and hotspots. You'll also find reopening plans, unemployment information, financial resources and mask guidance. Stick with WGRZ for the latest updates on COVID-19.