For Erie County residents considering family celebrations and religious gatherings this upcoming weekend, the Erie County Department of Health is offering this guidance:
•Religious Gatherings: ECDOH strongly encourages faith leaders and religious facility managers to review safety plans and operations, along with “New York Forward” religious services guidance, in advance of services this weekend. Virtual or livestreamed religious gatherings, though not ideal, are the safest way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For in-person gatherings, faith leaders should strongly encourage face mask use for all attendees, follow state guidance for cleaning and social distancing, and consider outdoor services. (See “New York Forward” religious services.”
•Family Celebrations: For family celebrations, limiting gathering size is one strategy to reduce COVID-19 risks. If unvaccinated people or children are present, face masks should be worn. Despite the changing Western New York weather, ECDOH recommends outdoor activities and meals, as well as disposable plates and utensils. And as with all activities, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who feels ill should stay home.
•Spring Break Travel: ECDOH has fielded questions from businesses, school leaders and the general public about travel plans for spring break or other travel out of state.
Since April 1, New York no longer requires individuals returning to this state from certain domestic travel to quarantine, or to “test out” of quarantine. However, Erie County is experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 transmission, as are other areas of the country. Air travel and travel in states that do not require the use of masks will put travelers at risk for COVID-19 exposure; and traveling Erie County residents may put others at risk of exposure. Quarantine requirements for international travelers remain in effect.
Travelers returning to Erie County should consider staying home when possible, and avoid close contact with older adults, individuals with chronic medical conditions, and unvaccinated people including children, for 10 days past their return from travel. Diagnostic testing is also recommended, five to seven days past the last date of exposure or travel.
Updated New York state travel advisory guidance includes:
√ Quarantine and testing are no longer required for asymptomatic domestic travelers.
√ Quarantine, consistent with the CDC recommendations for international travel, is still recommended for domestic travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from laboratory confirmed COVID-19 during the previous three months.
√ Restrictions on international travel are established by the CDC.
√ New York state travel form must continue to be filled out by all travelers.
The CDC offer considerations for before, during and after travel (CDC – travel during COVID-19.)
Per the CDC, if one must travel, take steps to ensure protection:
√ If eligible, get fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
√ Before traveling, get tested with a viral test one to three days before a trip.
√ Wear a mask over both the nose and mouth when in public.
√ Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet (2 meters or about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not also travel.
√ Get tested three to give days after a trip and stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel, even if a test is negative. If declining a tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced 18 community-based pop-up vaccination sites are coming online over the next week at houses of worship, community centers and gathering spaces, as well as local businesses. These sites are expected to vaccinate 8,500 people throughout the week.
Since January 15, more than 180 community-based pop-up sites have administered more than 69,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As has been the case with previous pop-up sites, these sites will be reestablished in three weeks to administer second doses if necessary. Vaccinations are by appointment only and walk-ins are not allowed.
"We are continuing to set up community-based pop-up sites across our state because we remain committed to making sure the vaccine is accessible for all New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "These sites have allowed us to reach our hard-hit communities and to address the skepticism around the vaccine, and they have been instrumental in making the vaccine distribution more equitable. Our collaboration with local leaders and organizations is proof of just how important these voices are in their respective communities, and we will continue to work with them until every New Yorker has access to the vaccine."
New pop-up sites include:
•Pilgrim Baptist Church
665 Michigan Ave., Buffalo
Open: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 6 **all appointments at this site have been filled**
•Native Pride Travel Plaza
11359 Southwestern Blvd., Irving
Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 7
230 Aldrich St., Gowanda
Open: 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 7
ECDOH also provided an update on the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered to Erie County residents based on information provided by the New York State Department of Health. As of Thursday, 33% of Erie County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 19% percent have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series.
Through April 1, ECDOH administered 44,559 first doses and 33,205 second doses at county-run points of distribution.