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COVID-19: Western New York has highest positive infection rate over 3-day period

by jmaloni

UPDATED at 12:35 p.m. Tuesday

Mon, Aug 10th 2020 11:15 am

Western New York has had New York state’s highest positive coronavirus test rate over the past three days of reporting. Per the Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Erie County reported 54 new positive cases on Thursday, then 59 on Friday and 54 on Saturday.

Niagara County had 21 new cases on Thursday, followed by 3 on Friday and 4 on Saturday.

The other counties new case totals included:

  • Allegany: 1, 0, 0
  • Cattaraugus: 0 ,1, 0
  • Chautauqua: 5, 4, 0
  • Genesee: 3, 0, 0
  • Orleans: 0, 1, 0
  • Wyoming: 1, 0, 2

These other counties are testing less people, so their infection rate percentage is higher (For example: Wyoming County had five positive results from 249 tests on Thursday – an average of 2.0%. That same day, Erie County tested 8,791 people with Niagara checking another 1,491 individuals.)

On Monday, the Niagara County Department of Health issued the following update on positive COVID-19 cases:

  • 5 new positive cases (since Friday morning), for a total of 1,497 total positive cases to date (isolations + recoveries + deaths)
  • 51 active cases (45 isolating at home, 6 in a hospital)
  • 1,347 recovered
  • 99 deaths
  • 59,278 people tested, with 2.5% positive (source: https://covid19tracker.health.ny.gov/)

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Erie County reported:

  • 249,704 people tested (3.7% positive), with a total of 8,763 confirmed COVID-19 cases
  • 512 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
  • 78,713 people had taken an antibody test (6.6% positive).

NFP has reached out to Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein, Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton and Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh for comments.

Wydysh said, “As far as infection rates, we watch for trends over several days, as opposed to just a few, which can just be a blip or anomaly. That said, the WNY Regional Control Room members will continue to monitor those numbers very closely and look further into potential causes if we see any red flags in our trends. We just finished our call for today, and at this point, we consider our numbers to be in good shape and holding fairly steady. According to the State's website, yesterday we were back down to .8%.”

She also noted that, per the state's tracker, Thursday's average was incorrectly reported. It was actually 1.1%.

Wydysh said, “Our 7-day rolling average as a region is at 1%.”

Stapleton referred the matter to the New York State Department of Health Western Region.

Western New York did fall to 0.8% on Sunday, but was again atop the list Monday with a rate of 1.3%. Erie County had 69 new positive cases, which was second only to New York City's 274.

On Tuesday, Erie County Department of Health Public Information Officer Kara Kane said, "These are results that our department is watching closely in terms of trends and rolling averages. Also, delays from some labs between the time a sample is taken and the time a test result is available mean there is a lag in the reporting. The rolling average is the key indicator, not a specific day or even group of days."

New York State Department of Health Public Information Officer Jeffrey Hammond said, “New York state continues to report the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the nation, thanks to the cooperation of all New Yorkers mask wearing, social distancing and practicing proper hand hygiene. While only 0.86% of the 77,059 test results reported to New York state yesterday were positive, there is always some fluctuation in the daily results.”

Other resources:

√ Erie County heat map.

√ Niagara County heat map.

√ Data on nursing home fatalities is tracked by New York state. That information can be found here: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/diseases/covid-19/fatalities_nursing_home_acf.pdf.

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