BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, as of Friday, there were 20 COVID-19 deaths in just eight days.
COVID-19 Hospital Report for September 3: Erie Co. hospitals had 108 patients (up 12), 20 of whom were in the ICU, 17 of those on an airway assist, and 47% of the patients were aged 64 and under. Sadly, another two (2) persons died; 20 persons have died during the last 8 days. pic.twitter.com/OP9XJtRjHS— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) September 5, 2021
Erie County Commissioner of Health Doctor Gale Burstein said the numbers are concerning.
“I’m not trying to freak anybody out, I’m reporting the facts, and if we don’t do anything to make those numbers change, they will continue to increase,” Dr. Burstein said.
“It’s actually a tragedy because it’s by and large preventable,” Dr. Nancy Nielsen from the UB Jacobs School of Medicine said.
According to the department of health, 58.8% of Erie County residents are fully vaccinated. Initially 70% vaccination was the goal, but Dr. Nielsen said that has changed.
“70% is not going to be good enough, its estimated that we have to get to at least 90% and we are far from that. That’s the problem,” Dr. Nielsen said.
A recent study done by the New York State Department of Health finds that the vaccine increases your chance of staying out of the hospital by more than 90% and is just under 80% effective against infection.
“They’re not going to end up in the hospital, or in the ICU on a ventilator, or in a morgue, they’re not,” Dr. Nielsen said.
But mask wearing indoors is still highly encouraged by health officials, even for those who are vaccinated.
“Nothing is perfect and so adding the mask wearing, even for those who are vaccinated, is an additional level of protection,” Dr. Nielsen said.
“It takes a community; we can’t just passively sit by and expect COVID-19 to disappear,” Dr. Burstein said.
As hospitalizations increase, Erie County health officials urge anyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I don’t even call it vaccine hesitancy anymore, this is vaccine resistance,” Dr. Nielsen said.
“The vaccine is safe; the vaccine is effective, and it is our ticket out of this pandemic,” Dr. Burstein said.