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A closer look at WNY's rising coronavirus numbers, and what they mean for the region

Posted at 11:25 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 23:26:05-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The current 7-day rolling average in Western New York is more than double what it was on August 15th, when the region saw some of its lowest rates. WNY's daily positivity rate for Thursday is 2.3%, the 7-day rolling average is 1.9%.

Dr. Thomas Russo is the the chief of University at Buffalo's Division of Infectious Diseases. He said case rates in WNY stayed mostly steady for six weeks, but this past week there's been an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“It hasn’t been a great week for Western New York and Erie County,” Russo said.

Erie County reported more than 100 new cases in three out of the four last days.

“We haven’t had 100 new cases in a single day since way back in May," he said. "So this is a concerning change in the number of cases we’re having right now, and I’m hoping this is not the beginning of an upward trend.”

Russo said now is the chance for the state to reduce its coronavirus numbers, while the positivity rate is still low enough.

“We’re really right now on the cusp from going one direction or the other," Russo said. "So this time is absolutely critical that we go ahead and do what we know will prevent new cases, and so we don't continue to go in the wrong direction."

Cases are rising in most parts of the country. Russo said two factors could be at play, cooler weather leading to more indoor activities, which increases infection risk, and a level of COVID fatigue. He's concerned that the upcoming weekend, with Halloween and the Bills-Patriots game, could lead to large indoor gatherings that put people at a greater risk of catching the virus.

Russo said the positivity rate in the state is still relatively low. He urges people to remain vigilant by wearing masks and social distancing, which could also make for a milder flu season. He said that the Southern Hemisphere experienced the mildest flu season on record.

New York State just launched a daily flu tracker. It reported five people in Erie County testing positive for the flu this past week.