ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County will be assisting other Western New York communities in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced how the county's Vaccine Task Force has been preparing to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
The team will be led by Jonathan Dandes, the Vice President of Rich Products and Board Chair of ECMC. Robert Rich III, president of ROAR Logistics, has volunteered to help the county with logistics.
County Executive Poloncarz said the team has been working for weeks:
- Determined where extreme cold locations are to store the vaccine.
- Decided on three mass distribution sites, which does not include Sahlen Field, Bills Stadium and Key Bank Center
- Created protocols for clinical dispensing
- Established messaging to go out to Erie County residents in several languages
County Executive Poloncarz said the reason Erie County will be assisting other parts of Western New York with vaccine distribution is because the county has more extreme cold locations to store the vaccine compared to elsewhere.
According to Empire State Games, Western New York:
- Still has the highest positive rate in the state
- Leads the state in new cases per 100,000 people
- Comes second in severity of infection, with the Finger Lakes Region now leading the state
County Executive Poloncarz also noted the county is starting to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases correlated to Thanksgiving celebrations. He said they are expecting hospitalizations will increase by the end of this week because of this.
Poloncarz said the area has not moved from an Orange Zone to a Red Zone because about over a 7-day rolling average, 28% of hospital beds are available and 50% of ICU beds are available.
Poloncarz said hospital admissions have been somewhat stable, seeing a dip in hospitalizations recently. He said his concern is over ICU admissions as they remain increasing.
West Seneca, Hamburg and Lancaster have had the highest positive rates in Western New York for the second week in a row.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said 100 out of 171 COVID-19 related deaths have come from congregate living facilities. That means 58.5% of COVID-19 deaths come from nursing homes.
Dr. Burstein said one out of four symptomatic individuals the county tests is positive for COVID-19.
Poloncarz mentioned the national shortage of Nitrile gloves. He said while there is a national shortage, Erie County has a stock pile of PPE, including Nitrile Gloves.