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Answering your questions: COVID numbers, exposure and micro-cluster zones

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Posted at 12:45 AM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 00:45:50-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the Western New York region and with that comes uncertainty. 7 Eyewitness News is working to get answers to your questions.

“It appears that there’s not a single town or city in Erie County that has an infection rate below three percent,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Tuesday.

Q: “I am wondering…why there are discrepancies between the daily numbers for (the) county and state?”
-Ashley from Erie County

A: The numbers do differ between the county and state. Officials say there are a few reasons why. For Monday, Erie County reported 397 new cases, but the state details only 392.
In a tweet, Poloncarz says the there are two reasons for the differences in state and local data.

The state, according to Poloncarz, includes everyone — no matter where they live — tested in the county and also includes UB pool testing.

A spokesperson for New York State Department of Health said in an email exchange each local health department gets data from the state’s database. What may differ, the spokesperson said, is the time the data is reported. There is no set 24 hour window. The spokesperson wrote in part: “Some do midnight to midnight, others do noon to noon, and others filter public reported cases based on specimen collection date. This can result in discrepancies in reporting data. NYS reports all test results reported over prior 24 hour period (2pm-2pm) regardless of specimen collection date.”

Q:”How long one would need to be exposed to a person who has been exposed to a positive infected person?”
-Susan from Niagara County

A: According to the CDC it comes down to close contact.
That means a few things:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes
  • Provided care for someone with COVID
  • Hugged or kissed someone with the virus
  • Shared utensils
  • You came into contact with respiratory droplets from the infected individual

On Monday, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein reminded residents who need to quarantine: “Stay at home in your own room, in your own space for 14 days. It’s very important that you check for any type of symptoms."

Q: “What percentage rate brings the area to orange?”
-Kristy from Erie County

A: According to state guidance, for orange zone status, the area has to see 10 days of a 7-day rolling average positivity rate above 3%.
The yellow zone in Erie County, currently sits above 7% based on state data released Tuesday. An orange zone also has to see “10 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents” again on a 7-day average.

“The conversations I’ve had with the governor’s office indicates that an announcement will be made tomorrow, on Wednesday, on a determination on whether portions of the yellow zone will enter orange or for that matter red,” Poloncarz said Tuesday. He continued, “I also believe there is a significant chance that areas that are not in the yellow zone will be added to the yellow zone starting tomorrow.”

Have a question? Send it to us here.