Poloncarz wants to avoid COVID mandates, but will implement if necessary

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Executives and health commissioners from the Buffalo and Rochester areas held a joint COVID-19 press conference on Monday to call for community action to address the region’s continued rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“We are in a fourth spike. There’s no doubt about it,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

But Poloncarz is trying to avoid issuing mandates, instead calling on people to do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He says that means getting vaccinated, wearing masks and staying home when sick.

“Pandemic fatigue is real,” Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, noting she’s feeling it, too.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Monroe County Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Mendoza joined Erie County leaders on the call.

Dr. Burstein, a public figure who has consistently urged proactive practices during the pandemic, highlighted that getting tested for COVID-19 is still a vital tool in keeping the virus from spreading.

But she says that some tests are more sensitive than others in detecting COVID-19. Specifically, she mentioned the effectiveness of a lab-based PCR test versus a home test kit.

Hospitals and their staff are exhausted, as many of the medical officials on the call noted. One, Dr. Michael Mineo, even said one facility is currently at 110 percent capacity. And the economic impact will continue too, as long as COVID-19 remains this problematic, Dr. Hans Cassagnol said.

Again, although Poloncarz says he doesn’t want to implement mandates, he will if it becomes necessary. When asked if Monroe and Erie County plan to take uniform action, Poloncarz says it will be based on science and data. So, each region could take different actions, depending on the circumstances.

Chief medical officers and representatives from hospitals in Erie County on this call included:

  • Hans Cassagnol, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive, Catholic Health
  • Michael Mineo, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Buffalo General Hospital and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital
  • Brian Murray, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Erie County Medical Center
  • Stephen Turkovich, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital

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.

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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