The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is providing an update on COVID-19 data. For the week ending November 27, 2021, ECDOH received reports for 4,271 new COVID-19 cases among Erie County residents, a 2% decrease from the previous week. This decline may be attributable to fewer tests occurring in the latter half of that week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. This also represents a 145% increase in COVID-19 cases in the past six reporting weeks, and a 59% increase in the past four reporting weeks. Erie County’s COVID-19 case rate of 448 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days for the week ending November 27 is slight decrease from the previous week’s case rate of 456. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set a case rate threshold of 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days for a community to be considered to have “high transmission.”
30% of new COVID-19 cases last week were among city of Buffalo residents. For reference, city of Buffalo residents make up 29% of all Erie County residents. This past week the ZIP codes with the highest seven-day case rates per 100,000 persons were: 14025 (Boston, 32 cases), 14086 (Lancaster, 225 cases), 14141 (Springville, 52 cases), 14004 (Alden, 77 cases) and 14057 (Eden, 52 cases). 17 ZIP codes had a case rate of more than 500 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days.
Contact tracing case investigations continue to note family and household clusters of COVID-19 cases. With the holiday season approaching, ECDOH encourages people who plan to gather with friends and family to stay home and away from others if ill. Also, COVID-19 testing is a tool to make sure you know your COVID-19 status before small gatherings, especially if other guests are elderly, have chronic medical or immunocompromising conditions, are pregnant, or unvaccinated.
About 43,200 COVID-19 test reports were received last week, a small decrease from the previous week’s total. Weekly test reports have remained very stable over the past four weeks. ECDOH and health care providers within Erie County still have substantial diagnostic testing capacity. People who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should strongly consider a diagnostic COVID-19 test. The New York State Department of Health maintains a list of testing locations. ECDOH created a list of community COVID-19 testing resources for parents and caregivers. Free COVID-19 NAAT tests are available through ECDOH by calling 716-858-2929 to schedule an appointment. Appointments are required for COVID-19 testing through ECDOH. Wait times for ECDOH appointment telephone line are longest in the morning. Callers may choose to call after 10 a.m. if they want to avoid a wait.
The weekly positivity rate was 9.9%, up from 9.4% for the week ending November 20. This is the highest weekly positivity percentage since the earliest stages of the pandemic in May 2020. The 30-39-year-old age group had the highest number of COVID-19 cases last week, which represents a seven-day case rate of 693 per 100,000 persons in that age group. The age groups with the highest positivity rates were school-aged children: 12.6% for 5-10-year-olds; 14.8% for 11-13-year-olds; and, 13.7% for 14-17-year-olds. These higher positivity rates may reflect lower relative numbers of tests in these age groups, and a higher likelihood that symptomatic children and adolescents will seek a COVID-19 test for return to school purposes. Every age group, except ages 80 and older, had a positivity rate of more than 8%.
For children under age 18 years, case totals decreased by 53 COVID-19 cases last week from the previous week, to 1,072 COVID-19 cases. Cases among children under 18 years comprised 25% of all cases reported for last week, an increase from October 2021 when that proportion was ~22-23%.
The school team in the ECDOH Office of Epidemiology is managing a large volume of cases among k-12 students and school staff. Data for the week ending November 13 and November 20 are incomplete* because official test reports are pending. These weekly totals remain higher than at any other point in this academic year or the previous academic year.
ECDOH announced that it was piloting a “Test to Stay” program with Grand Island Central School District starting December 6. Broadly, in a school using TTS, k-12 students who are not fully vaccinated and close contacts of a COVID-19 case from a school exposure would have a rapid COVID-19 test before each school day as part of a modified quarantine. Students with a household exposure would not be eligible, nor would school staff. The student would attend school that day if their test result was negative. A positive test result would mean the student is excluded from school and placed in isolation at home. ECDOH will evaluate pilot program outcomes and decide on next steps.
With 334 COVID-19 hospitalizations reported in Erie County hospitals on November 28, 2021, the number of patients admitted to Erie County hospitals with COVID-19 has ranged from a low of 203 hospitalizations to a high of 334 hospitalizations over the past two weeks [See chart at end of release]. 211 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 (63%) were not fully vaccinated. Among those patients, 42 (69%) of 61 patients admitted to the ICU were not fully vaccinated; and, 32 (70%) of 46 patients with an airway assist were not fully vaccinated. Vaccines work to reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalization. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) publishes statewide data for COVID-19 cases over time by vaccination status, and daily hospital admissions over time by vaccination status.
ECDOH is reporting COVID-19 mortality data. ECDOH received reports of 8 COVID-19 associated deaths in the past seven days. Total COVID-19-related deaths from March 2020 to November 25, 2021 now stand at 2,151, with 875 reported in 2021. CDC publishes national rates of COVID-19 related cases, hospitalizations and deaths by vaccination status at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#rates-by-vaccine-status.
With data compiled by the ECDOH epidemiology office through November 29, 2021, 21% of 5-11-year-olds in Erie County have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Additional data, including vaccination estimates by ZIP code, are posted to the ECDOH web site. NYSDOH also updates vaccination data by demographics, by county and by ZIP code.
ECDOH has an active schedule of COVID-19 vaccine clinics, listed at www.erie.gov/vax. Clinics for 5-11-year-olds are listed at www.erie.gov/vax. ECDOH will also vaccinate any eligible Erie County resident at their home. Call (716) 858-2929 for the “Vax Visit” program.
ECDOH encourages Erie County residents who are not fully vaccinated to begin their COVID-19 vaccine series. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for youth and families attending school or child care.
ECDOH vaccine clinics will provide a COVID-19 booster dose to anyone age 18 and older as long as enough time has elapsed from their initial series completion (6 months for Pfizer and Moderna; 2 months for J&J). ECDOH encourages people to review the recommended booster eligibility criteria, evaluate their risk factors and talk to their own physician with questions. NYSDOH has further information about booster doses.
Chart: Erie County Hospitalization Data, last two weeks (November 15, 2021-November 28, 2021); data for Nov. 25, 2021 not available due to Thanksgiving holiday.
Data Sources: New York State Department of Health and Erie County hospitals