Breakthrough COVID cases on the rise due to expanding delta variant


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — COVID-19 cases are up across the Western New York region as the delta variant becomes more prominent. Breakthrough cases are also climbing.

Booster shots are on the way for Americans who’ve been vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna. The Biden administration expects them to be available by September 20.

Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said this will be important as vaccine protection reduces over time.

“The first people we did were elderly people in nursing homes, healthcare settings, those would be the people to first receive the booster,” said Stapleton.

The additional dose is already available for people who are immunocompromised; that’s different than the booster shot. Stapleton recommends people in this group talk to their doctor about getting a third dose.

Erie County announced it will offer these additional doses beginning Thursday at all county sites.

Western New York’s seven day rolling average for positive cases is 3.4%. Hospitalizations are up and have been climbing for the past month.

Chautauqua County has the highest seven day rolling average in the region at 6%. Only 47.2% of Chautauqua County residents are fully vaccinated.

New cases in Erie cCounty are up 26% from last week. Erie County is still in the CDC’s substantial transmission category. Both numbers of hospitalizations and ICU patients have increased as well.

The seven day rolling average of positives in Niagara County has also increased slightly currently sitting at 3.2%.

Stapleton said they’re doing less testing than earlier in the pandemic.

“We need to accept the fact that even during good weeks in terms of numbers we’re still gonna have anywhere between 1% and 2% no matter what until we get vaccination numbers where we need to be.”

Stapleton said about a third of the people testing positive in Niagara County are vaccinated, showing breakthrough as an issue. He said while cases are increasing, deaths aren’t, and that’s thanks to the vaccine.

“People who are on the fence and say, ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready,’ now is the time to be ready to take that vaccine.”

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