ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Erie County officials provided a COVID-19 update Wednesday regarding the current COVID cases in the county.
According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the confirmed COVID cases have increased 80 percent over the last two weeks.
COVID cases are said to be rising in every age group, but the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups currently have the highest amount of cases. Meanwhile, COVID cases for teens and children 17 years old and and younger doubled last week from the week prior.
In terms of the number of people hospitalized in Erie County, Poloncarz says COVID hospitalizations have quadrupled since mid-July; however, the hospitalizations are still low in comparison to the spring or winter. At this time, the number of patients in the ICU are still very low.
Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein says the county is seeing new COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, child care and summer programs. According to Burstein, the county has seen more evidence of COVID transmission in summer school and summer camps than during the school year. So far, 39 cases have been reported between staff, campers and/or students.
The Erie County Department of Health says part of this rise in cases in these settings is unvaccinated staff, who are not wearing masks, and people who are coming in while they are sick. Burstein once again stressed the importance of wearing masks.
"Now with the COVID-19 delta variant - it's more than twice as transmissible as the other variants that we've had, the other strains here. It's really important that people mask," Burstein said.
At this time the New York State Department of Health has not provided health and safety guidance for grades K-12. However, Burstein says the New York State Education Department has told school districts to look toward CDC guidance for masking, distancing and testing.
In terms of mandatory masking in Erie County, Poloncarz says a county-wide mask mandate would depend on the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations. Poloncarz says the county is "not at that point yet" to put a mask mandate in effect.
"As I've said, if we continue to see cases rise, hospitalizations rise, then I would consider imposing a mask mandate for indoor and all public facilities, but we're just not at that point yet," Poloncarz said. "We have seen growth. The growth has not stabilized, but it's not growing at the same rate it was a week and a half ago - a week ago."
Both Poloncarz and Burstein stress that anyone who feels sick should get tested and stay home, regardless if they've been vaccinated. Both continuously stressed the seriousness of the delta variant.
Click the video player below to watch the full COVID briefing: