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Poloncarz: 183 people died from COVID-19 in Erie County during December

With the holidays coming up, Poloncarz and Burstein are asking Erie County residents to stay home and avoid in-person gatherings.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein provided a COVID-19 update Monday afternoon.

With the holidays coming up, Poloncarz and Burstein are asking Erie County residents to stay home and avoid in-person gatherings. Both are asking county residents to have a quiet get together this year only with those you live with.

"Let's do all we can to protect our senior members of the community so that they can enjoy as many Christmases in the future going forward," Poloncarz said.

During the press conference Poloncarz also provided the most recent COVID-19 data, saying 36,235 unique COVID-19 cases were identified through December 19. Poloncarz added that the county currently has a seven day COVID-19 positivity rate of 6 percent.

The county also provided a diagnostic testing summary of the last six weeks. Poloncarz says the county saw a 10 percent decrease in new cases from the week ending on December 12 to the week ending on December 19 and a 16 percent decrease in new cases from the week ending on December 5 to the week ending on December 12. In addition, Poloncarz says the county has seen a drop in total COVID-19 cases.

"We've basically done the same amount of tests for the last three weeks, but we've seen a drop in overall cases, as well as in the positivity rate - so that's a good thing," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz says 183 individuals have died from COVID-19 during the month of December. 

The Erie County Department of Health Epidemiology Staff is currently reviewing the county's mortality data, but Poloncarz says it appears that over half of the investigated deaths in December occurred from people living in congregate settings.

"We've been averaging about 10 deaths a day as a result of COVID-19, and if we continue that trend for the remainder of the month, we will in all likelihood surpass the totals we had in April and May for deaths per month," Poloncarz said.

At this time, the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Erie County is 1,061. 

In terms of hospitalizations, as of December 19, 473 COVID-19 patients were in Western New York hospitals, 98 of which were in the ICU.

Poloncarz said on December 19, 72.5 percent of Erie County hospital beds were occupied. 

Of those hospitalized in Western New York, 391 patients were in Erie County hospitals; 81 of which were in the ICU, and 55 having an airway assist. 

The county executive says hospitalizations have declined slightly this week; however, Poloncarz says that ICU and airway assist patients remain steady.

You can watch the county's full COVID-19 update below: