BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County set another new record for Covid-19 cases Tuesday, breaking the record set Monday that broke the record set last week that broke the record set earlier this month.
Tuesday’s record number of positive tests — 1,926 — shattered Monday’s record of 1,368. The county said 19.5% of tests Tuesday were positive.
Officials believe the unprecedented spike in cases is driven by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which is significantly more transmissible than the original variant but may not causes as severe of symptoms. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Tuesday that approximately 60 percent of cases locally are believed to be the Omicron variant.
Erie County had never seen more than 1,000 positive tests in one day until Dec. 23. A week later, the county had nearly 2,000.
Both New York state and the country as a whole are experiencing record levels of cases this week, nearly two years into the pandemic.
“As we approach the New Year it is vitally important that we don’t let our guard down in our fight against the pandemic,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Let’s make it our collective New Year’s resolution to leave Covid in the past. We have the tools and we know what works – mask up, get vaccinated, get boosted, and exercise caution in large gatherings, especially this weekend.”
Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 in Erie County are also on the rise again, Poloncarz said. They had been trending down after a spike around Thanksgiving.
Vaccinations and booster shots continue to play a large role in preventing severe illness. Poloncarz said 65% of those hospitalized with Covid-19 on Monday were not fully vaccinated, including 73% of patients in the intensive care unit.
Poloncarz also said 30 more Erie County residents died from Covid-19 from Dec. 17-20. December has been the deadliest month for Covid-19 in Erie County since vaccines arrived.
A number of events have been canceled this week due to Covid-19, including three “Hamilton” performances at Shea’s. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Public Schools announced they would return to in-person classes after the holiday break.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.