Highest new daily case count total since COVID-19 pandemic began

ERIE COUNTY, NY – The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) has confirmed 385 new COVID-19 cases for Friday, November 6. This is the highest daily case total among Erie County residents since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and exceeds the previous high total of 277 new cases set on May 4, 2020.

The daily positivity rate based on 7,995 diagnostic test results was 4.8%, with a 7-day rolling average of 4.0%. The total number of cases confirmed in Erie County since March 2020 is 14,770.

“We are investigating each of these new cases and our contact tracers are placing these individuals in isolation and their close contacts in quarantine,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “From our ZIP code data, we can confirm that we are seeing new cases in nearly every community within Erie County; this suggests community spread, and new cases are not localized to specific neighborhoods, workplaces or activities.”

“The cases we are seeing now are from infections that were transmitted within the past week or two,” Dr. Burstein continued. “While it is difficult to predict what each new day of data will bring, our numbers reflect our behaviors, and what each of us does today will impact what type of case numbers, positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths we will see going forward.”

“Our department and Erie County have expected to see an increase in COVID cases in the fall, and we are prepared,” Dr. Burstein explained. “But the work to contact trace, and isolate and quarantine people is what we do after other primary prevention measures like wearing a mask, avoiding social gatherings with people outside the household, physical distancing and all the things we have been emphasizing have failed.”

“New York State and Governor Cuomo indicated that they are looking closely at data from Erie County, and may make announcements about ‘micro-clusters’ and potentially zone designations next week that would reduce capacity at certain businesses and take other measures to reduce community transmission,” said Dr. Burstein. “We have to re-double our efforts as a community right now on individual actions to reduce COVID transmission.”

· Avoid gatherings and events. Asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is a serious concern. An earlier review of new COVID cases showed that about 30% of people with a positive COVID test did not experience COVID symptoms at the time of their test. Social gatherings of any size, particularly when attendees do not wear masks or maintain physical distancing, are contributing to new cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer this list of activities ordered by risk:

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

Travel-based exposures, specifically for youth hockey teams, have caused entire classrooms to be placed under quarantine, and place in-person learning in jeopardy.

Maintain isolation and quarantine. ECDOH is urging people who have been notified that they are close contacts of a positive case to maintain quarantine, stay apart from others in their household, monitor for symptoms, and get a diagnostic test as recommended. A negative test does not end a quarantine period for someone who has been placed under quarantine because of exposure to a positive COVID case.

·Stay home when sick. For anyone who develops COVID-like symptoms, ECDOH asks that you stay home from work, school, and any other activity, consult your physician, and schedule a diagnostic COVID test.

Protect high-risk family members and friends. Older adults, people with certain medical conditions, and people with disabilities are at higher risk for severe COVID illness. At this time ECDOH recommends limiting interactions with other people as much as possible. Delay or cancel in-person visits. If that is not possible, wear a mask, maintain a 6-foot distance, move the visit outdoors or to a well-ventilated area, and do not share objects or food.