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Niagara County debuts COVID-19 map; Stapleton: 'People will get better'

by jmaloni
Thu, Mar 26th 2020 03:50 pm
A screen grab of the Niagara County COVID-19 `heat map.`
A screen grab of the Niagara County COVID-19 "heat map."

At a press briefing Thursday, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh and Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton announced five new positives COVID-19 cases:

  • From Newfane, a 73-year-old male, hospitalized
  • From the City of Lockport, a 66-year-old male, hospitalized
  • From Wheatfield, a 37-year-old female, home isolation
  • From the Town of Lockport, a 50-year-old male, hospitalized
  • From North Tonawanda, a 42-year-old female who has been in isolation at home (test results confirmed COVID-19, but she has since recovered and is out of isolation)

Niagara County currently has 46 people in quarantine, and 53 who have completed quarantine.

“That’s a real milestone,” Stapleton said. “It’s the first time we’ve had a higher number of people who have finished their quarantine, completed their quarantine, than we actually have in quarantine. I think that’s an important milestone that people can get better.

“People will get better – whether it’s a quarantine from me, or whether a self-quarantine. People are going through those 14 days, still having no symptoms, and then they’re released from quarantine. I think that’s an important thing. Those are good things.”

Health officials received two negative tests results and are awaiting the results of two new tests.

That is a total of 19 positive coronavirus cases, with 16 people in isolation and three recovered individuals.

Though testing is being done, Stapleton said a lack of kits remains a frustration.

“I understand why the testing kits are downstate, because they want to identify those hot zones,” he said. “We know it’s downstate. I want to be able to identify hot zones here. The whole idea of public health, epidemiology, is to be able to identify hot spots, and then working to contain them.

“If we can’t do enough testing in our area, we can’t identify those places and quarantine the people; and making sure we isolate the virus.”

The Niagara County Department of Public Health released a “heat map” today. Here is a link, which will be updated daily: https://niagara-county.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/1438a0783c4e4b0883aa42d3f8009257.

“That shows the higher numbers where you have higher population density – no surprise, along the lake you’ll have low numbers; less-densely populated areas also have low numbers,” Stapleton said. “But you’ll see the high-density areas – whether it’s Niagara-Wheatfield, City of Niagara Falls, City of Lockport, North Tonawanda – those numbers are surprising us. We expect that there are numbers across the county; they just haven’t been tested yet to show what the numbers are.”

He explained the map, “Gives (people) a little more useful information, rather than the list of ZIP codes.

“We think it will be well-received. We’ll be updating these on a daily basis, so that people are kept up-to-date. … The numbers will show the changes.”

•As for a tax extension announced Wednesday by Legislator Richard Andres, Wydysh said a special meeting will be held at 5:15 p.m. Friday from the Niagara County Courthouse in Lockport. Legislators will vote at that time.

“We have a resolution that we’re bringing forward that will give some relief to county taxpayers: The property taxes that are due, and the penalties and interest,” Wydysh said. “We’ll have much discussion tomorrow night on what that will look like, and how we can help in that situation.”

The meeting is closed to the public, but will air live on LCTV.

Wydysh and Stapleton addressed the public from the LCTV studio in Lockport. Their press announcement was closed, in keeping with recommended “social distancing” guidelines.

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