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Greatly diminished rates of transmission, reduced hospitalizations, completion of pandemic-related county tasks make lapse of SOE a reality
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Friday issued the following statement regarding the ongoing state of emergency in Erie County, which has been in place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March 2020 – and, his team said, “has allowed Erie County’s response to the virus and its variants to be as flexible, quick and targeted as possible throughout each stage of the public health response.”
With Erie County now seeing greatly reduced rates of transmission, decreases in hospitalizations and the lifting of mask mandates, as well as new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that lists Erie County as being in the “low” category for risk of transmission, Poloncarz is revisiting the state of emergency in Erie County.
Poloncarz said, “As March begins, we are thankfully continuing to see reductions in case rates, especially from the extremely high rates that we saw just two months ago. Simultaneously, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 cases are dropping and the strain on our health care system is easing. These are good signs, but Erie County will continue to monitor these rates and other potential areas of concern with the virus and its variants; they are not going away completely.
“Even while the virus’ grip has been easing on our community, Erie County personnel have remained deeply involved in responding to it and protecting residents from it. Workers from numerous departments, not just the Department of Health, have worked cooperatively and often out of job title to make our county response as effective as possible. These individuals have helped to coordinate and staff testing and vaccination clinics, acquire millions of pieces of PPE and then distribute them to the greater community, and other public health response measures. For several weeks now, as the virus has ebbed, these employees have been returning to their own jobs and job titles as part of the county’s return to normal working conditions, an essential component to lifting the state of emergency.
“County-run testing and vaccination clinics will continue and we will continue to assist municipalities with PPE and other needs, although both of these efforts will be at levels greatly reduced from the past year. We will also continue assisting school districts as necessary. Protecting public health has been the foremost concern of my administration from the moment I swore my oath of office, and that remains unchanged.
“Currently, there are no pandemic-related mandates still in effect in Erie County, the first time since before the pandemic began in March 2020. As such, the state of emergency currently in effect locally will not be renewed and will expire on Saturday, March 5, 2022.
“The expiration of the state of emergency does not signify the end of the potential threat posed to our community from COVID-19, but it the end of one chapter in our battle. There are still people in our community who are at risk for serious illness from the virus, and I ask all to respect their wishes if they are wearing a mask, or ask you to wear one to protect them. One small effort on your part may save their life.
“Finally, I thank all members of our Erie County team for their tremendous efforts to protect the public during this difficult period, as well as the public for the sacrifices they made to ensure a safer Erie County for all. Your effort and sacrifices will never be forgotten.”