BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted a COVID-19 briefing from the Delevan Grider Community Center in Buffalo Tuesday afternoon to update New Yorkers on the state’s pandemic response efforts.

Leaders from Monroe and Erie Counties held a briefing Monday to inform the public about a surge in new COVID-19 cases throughout the Finger Lakes and Western New York — the two regions with the highest average COVID-19 positivity rates in the state

Each region’s seven-day average positivity rate is as follows:

  • Capital Region — 5.80%
  • Central New York — 5.66%
  • Finger Lakes — 8.73%
  • Long Island — 3.48%
  • Mid-Hudson — 2.70%
  • Mohawk Valley — 6.92%
  • New York City — 1.41%
  • North Country — 6.73%
  • Southern Tier — 4.68%
  • Western New York — 8.52%
  • Statewide — 3.40%

“We’re coming together to raise awareness of our rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates,” Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said Monday. “What’s more concerning is the corresponding spike in hospitalizations. We both recognize this is a regional problem, and a regional call to action.”

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

Noting that COVID rates are rising recently in all corners of the state, the governor said COVID-19 restrictions could potentially be put back in place should the troubling trends continue.

“If the numbers don’t start on a downward trend, we’re going to have to talk about tighter protocols,” Gov. Hochul said. “So this is the warning and I hope the community will listen because it doesn’t have to be this way.”

The governor said vaccination remains the best option for reducing spread, hospitalization, and death pertaining to the pandemic. The state’s vaccination progress, according to the governor Tuesday, is as follows:

  • 28,555,661 total doses administered
  • 53,987 vaccine doses administered in past 24 hours
  • 89.10% of New Yorkers 18 and older with at least one dose
  • 79.8% of New Yorkers 18 and older fully vaccinated
  • 71.30% of New Yorkers aged 12-17 with at least one dose
  • 62.90% of New Yorkers aged 12-17 fully vaccinated.

Regarding breakthrough cases in New York, the governor reported a slight uptick week over week in percentage of breakthrough cases and hospitalizations.

She said breakthrough cases accounted for 1.2% of new COVID-19 cases in New York over the past seven days, and 0.08% of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, up from 1.1% and 0.07%, respectively, a week ago.

Recognizing waning immunity over time, the governor announced the state is expanding access to COVID-19 booster shots for New Yorkers 18 and older.

The governor announced that anyone who is 18 and older, who lives in a high transmission area, as designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can get the booster shot if they want one. The CDC recommends booster shots six months after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after the Johnson & Johnson dose.

As of Wednesday, Monroe County was considered a high transmission area. For folks interested in scheduling a booster shot appointment, you can do so locally through Monroe County’s website.

For folks concerned about the availability of the vaccine they initially received, U.S. regulators last month approved formally to allow “mixing and matching” of shots — making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.

Watch the full press briefing

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.