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COVID-19: "You can be here today and gone tomorrow"

Buffalo family stunned at how quick the virus can kill
Posted at 5:52 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 03:34:54-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County is reporting that 101 people have died related to covid-19. The number suddenly jumped up by 31 over the past few days.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said it was related to the way nursing homes report deaths as they have to go through New York State before being shared with the county.

"It wasn't until we were able to combine the county and state systems yesterday late afternoon, that we were able to determine that our numbers were off because we weren't getting accurate data from nursing homes," said Poloncarz.

The county executive said efforts have been made to speed-up the transfer of data to provide a more accurate accounting of covid-19 deaths. However, Poloncarz cautioned there could still be some deaths that occur locally that won't be known until the information passes through NYS first.

"Our medical examiner's office doesn't get every death that occurs in our community; that goes to NY and then is shared with us," explained Poloncarz. Deaths in homes and some handled by funeral directors are examples of covid-19 deaths that would have to flow through the information chain, explained Poloncarz.

"We need to take this extremely serious. You can be here today and gone tomorrow," said Vince Staples. His cousin, Kenneth Whigham, Sr., age 54, died just five days after entering Buffalo General Medical Center on April 5th and being placed in the intensive care unit.

"We heard the horrific news that he tested positive for covid-19," added his cousin. Family were not allowed to be with Whigham during his final hours because of safety concerns.

"Definitely hurt by his loss because prior to all this he was doing well," said Staples.

Kenneth Whigham, Sr. is a former school bus transportation supervisor and administrator for Buffalo Vets Little League Football. The 54-year-old suffered a stroke two years ago but was recovering and living at home when he developed a cough.

"It was just a cough. He didn't have a cold or a fever. No runny nose. None of the other symptoms," said Staples. Family had to convince Whigham to be checked at the hospital because the Buffalo man "didn't think much of it."

Whigham leaves behind four children, two of them younger who are being cared for by their mother.