Higher COVID death rates in Erie County

“COVID is one mean S.O.B."
Posted at 6:39 PM, Oct 27, 2021

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The Erie County Executive says he's very concerned as we all start heading in doors with a rising number of COVID cases and higher death rates.

The Delta variant remains very contagious and could be the reason for this latest data.

“COVID is one mean S.O.B. Delta variant is really bad,” declared Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive.

Poloncarz joined Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein on Wednesday for a COVID briefing.

Poloncarz saying the county now has the largest batch of new COVID cases in some time with 400 registered on Tuesday.

He says mortality data is very revealing.

“And a majority of those individuals who died were not fully vaccinated before they caught COVID,” Poloncarz said.

The county pointed out how death rates from COVID are actually higher than they were last year without the vaccine.

  • September of 2020: 18 total COVID deaths
  • September of 2021: 55 total COVID deaths
  • October of 2020: 31 total COVID deaths
  • October of 2021: 54 total COVID deaths

“If you have not gotten vaccinated — it’s s almost a case of Russian roulette in some ways,” described Poloncarz.

The county says approximately 31-percent of unvaccinated adults 18 years and older account for two-thirds of COVID hospitalizations.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

“It’s crazy — but the people who are in their 30’s and 40’s who are unvaccinated have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to our seniors, people who are over the age of 65, who are fully vaccinated,” Dr. Burstein noted.

Commissioner Burstein says they are also seeing more cases among 12 to 17-year-olds who are eligible for a vaccination.

“The 12 to 17 year olds who are not vaccinated have the highest COVID 19 case rates of any age group,” Burstein noted.

Burstein says those 12 to 17 years of age, who are fully vaccinated, have the lowest covid cases.

Some schools and parents are pushing for a "test to stay" option.

That would allow for rapid test for students and if it is negative, they can stay in school instead of quarantining if they are exposed to another student who tested positive in their classroom.

Burstein says it's some the health department has explored, but remains on the fence about it.

“We haven't pursed it and I’m actually disappointed that if the schools really want to purse this as an option that they're talking to the news and instead of the health depart that can help get this going,” explained Burstein.

Both Burstein and Poloncarz using the COVID update to urge the community to get vaccinations.

“It comes down to this — we have a lot people unfortuantely, in our county in the past few months, who died — who should not have died but only died because they didn’t get vaccinate,” Poloncarz remarked.

Burstein recommending COVID boosters for anyone 18 years and older who lives in a high-risk setting. She says that includes college students, who are fully vaccinated.

I asked Poloncarz, as kids head out for trick or treating and Halloween parties this weekend, if it will be safe.

He says it's best they wear masks and that goes for adults as well.

“If you're unvaccinated and you're gong to Halloween party where there's a lot of people and no body's wearing a masks — you're putting yourself at risk,” responded Poloncarz.

As for this weekend's Buffalo Bills game — it’s the first in which all fans will need to be fully vaccinated.

County leaders say they will have “double” the staff checking vaccination cards at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

Poloncarz reminding everyone that it is “illegal” to show fake vaccination cards.

Commissioner Burstein says now that it is close to getting 5 to 11 year olds vaccinated, the county is making preparations for that age group.

She says for parents who are hesitate, Pfizer data is showing the vaccine is safe for kids and noted that age group would only need a third of a dose.