Allegany County now has highest Covid positivity, lowest vaccination rates

Allegany County

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — The rural counties now have some of the highest Covid positivity rates in New York State, a trend that is in some ways opposite compared to when the pandemic began.

“It is spreading in some communities like wildfire,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who noted on Tuesday that Erie County’s Covid positivity rate is lower than most of the rural counties in Western New York.

As of Monday, Allegany County had the highest daily positivity rate in the state at more than 23%. Allegany County’s Public Health Educator, Theresa Moore says part of the reason is that Allegany County also has the lowest vaccination rate in New York State. Only 41.7% of Allegany County residents are fully vaccinated. 53.1% of the adults in the county have at least one dose.

“I hope that there are more people who are questioning that would actually talk to their healthcare provider,” said Moore. “That would be a very important thing if they would make an informed decision about what to do with the vaccination decision.”

Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious diseases for the Jacobs School of medicine, says those who were vaccinated more than six months ago need to consider getting the booster. “Compared to the maximal degree of protection you had under the first two shots if you receive a booster shot with Pfizer or Moderna, the levels of protective antibodies will increase at least 10-20 fold.”

Since, November 23, Erie County has mandated the wearing of masks in public spaces like stores. Health Commissioner, Dr. Gale Burstein, insists the mask mandate is helping. “We have data to show that that is true and since we’ve implemented our mask mandate in Erie County, our Covid numbers are much lower than surrounding counties that have not implemented a mask mandate.”

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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