WNY raises “caution flag” during COVID-19 pandemic


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says western New York is raising a “caution flag” in the fight against the coronavirus.

For six days straight, the rate of positive tests in the region has been above one percent, even though the overall rate in the state has stayed lower than that.

Gov. Cuomo says the five-day average of new, daily cases for the western New York region is 63, which is up from 34 a week ago.

He says the increase in cases has been driven by a number of different factors:

  • Clusters at a steel plant in Erie County, and a food processing factory in Chautauqua County
  • New cases at two nursing homes
  • Pre-hospital procedure screening
  • Testing of seasonal labor at farms

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz released a statement on the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

“As always, Erie County’s Department of Health reviews all data related to COVID-19 closely, including trends for newly confirmed cases and positivity rates.

While performing their case investigations, our contact tracers are documenting new cases as clusters within households, workplaces, and nursing homes, and also from unknown sources of transmission in the general public. We have seen these situations since the start of this pandemic and work with employers to ensure the safety of their employees and facility. As has been standard practice since the beginning of the outbreak, the New York State Department of Health is investigating cases and clusters within nursing homes.

Our community has worked very hard to reduce the spread of this disease through non-pharmaceutical interventions – the small actions we take every day to wear a mask, physically distance, wash our hands and clean frequently touched surfaces. These actions protect us and they protect those around us. We need those actions to continue in order to keep our county and its most vulnerable community members healthy.

Our region moved through the phases of NY Forward to where we are today in Phase 4. Most businesses are back to a new normal of operations, and schools plan to open in some form next month. The last thing we want to see are closures of industries or in-school learning because of uncontrolled community transmission of COVID-19.

And, as a note on professional sporting events, under current NYS guidelines no fans are allowed in Buffalo Bills games. If new cases and positivity rates continue to increase, it is extremely unlikely that NYS will allow fans into games.

Our community has the tools and knowledge to keep the numbers of new cases low. It is important for anyone with symptoms or who has been a close contact of a confirmed case to get a diagnostic test. Individuals with symptoms should isolate themselves until they receive a test result. Tests through our Department of Health are free – call (716) 858-2929 to schedule. The best way for our community and country to get through this pandemic is if we – all of us – remain vigilant.”

Mark Poloncarz

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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