(WIVB) – During a Monday afternoon press conference, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that he’s confident that Erie County will meet reopening criteria by June 1.
He added that it’s possible the county could meet re-opening criteria by May 15, the expiration of NY’s PAUSE order, or possibly by May 22 or 23, depending on hospitalization numbers.
As of Monday, Western New York has met five of the state’s seven metrics for reopening.
The region still needs to meet the criteria of a decline in hospitalizations and hospitalization deaths over 14 days.
Poloncarz says the public is in control of getting these numbers down by continuing to reduce the spread.
Erie County just received over 1 million masks, which will be distributed to cities, towns, and legislators.
It’s up to them to distribute them to their communities, Poloncarz said.
As of noon on Monday, there are a total of 4,484 positive COVID-19 cases in Erie County. There have been 357 deaths- a number which has not changed in a few days, and the county does not expect the number to go up by later in the day on Monday.
Erie County leaders noted in Monday’s press conference that the percentage of positive cases in Erie County continues to drop.
The number of people being tested each week is growing, with more than 8,000 people tested in the past week. Of those tested, 12.1 percent were positive for the coronavirus.
About two percent of people in Erie County have been tested for COVID-19 antibodies. That means that there are still many people in the community who have not been exposed, which is why social distancing is so important.
The county has not received hospital data from the state since last week. Hospitalization data statewide is continuing to decline.
The county has taken the data of people who have “recovered” from COVID-19 off of the county COVID-19 map, since they don’t know for sure when someone has recovered from the coronavirus.
Poloncarz mentioned Town of Tonawanda supervisor Joe Emminger, who recently tested positive a second time for the coronavirus after completing his home isolation.
Polocarz says that this example shows that there’s not yet a way to tell when someone has actually recovered.
The county executive talked about camping grounds during Monday’s press conference. The county has already asked the state to allow some RV camping for self-contained RVs, but it hasn’t yet been approved.
“According to NYS the campgrounds remain NON-essential,” Poloncarz tweeted. “We are not allowing campers because that would be a violation of state law. We are trying to amend the order so that some camping may be allowed but as of now, it is not. We cannot override the State. We follow their guidance.”
As far as reopening goes, churches have not yet been identified in any of the state’s four reopening phases yet, Poloncarz added. He’s hoping to get clarification on the state for this.
Over the weekend, protesters took to Poloncarz’ neighborhood to picket about the failure to reopen.
Poloncarz said he wasn’t there for it, and requested that anyone who wants to protest him in the future do so at the Rath building.
“My neighbors didn’t sign up for it. I did,” Poloncarz said. “If you have a problem, and you don’t like something I’ve done, protest me at the Rath building. Leave my neighbors out of it.”