Number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Erie County nearly doubles

"It's going to be a tough winter"
Posted at 11:01 AM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 17:40:20-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — As cases of COVID-19 spike in Erie County, the hospitalization rates are climbing.

"This is going to be a difficult time - these next few months," stated Dr. Peter Winkelstein, UB's Jacobs School of Medicine.

  • 126 COVID patients are hospitalized in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Allegany Counties.
  • 84 of the hospitalizations are in Erie County
  • 21 total are in ICU in WNY
  • 7 with airway assist
Dr. Peter Winkelstein, UB's Jacobs School of Medicine in a Zoom interview.

When comparing data from October 28 to November 10, the numbers indicate Erie County has nearly doubled the number of COVID patients in hospitals from 43 to 84.

Erie County says 126 COVID patents were in Western New York region hospitals with 21 in the ICU.

The county says 84 of those patients were in Erie County hospitals, with 17 in the ICU and seven of those patients required an airway assist with one patient death.

The Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said these are the highest hospitalization numbers since June 10.

Dr. Winkelsteoin said the increase in hospitalizations goes hand in hand with the spike in the positivity rate.

"Because ultimately if the cases keep rising — and the number of patients at the hospital keep rising, at some point you have to say it's out of control and we have to lock it all down," remarked Winkestein.

At an Erie County COVID briefing Thursday, county health commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein presented Winkelstein's graph showing that when restrictions are not followed hospitalizations rise.

"We are quickly increasing inching our way up to the steep slop, where we are going to see an exponential explosion of hospital admissions if we don't take action now," warned Dr. Burstein.

But this time younger people are landing in the hospital. 44-percent of the patients in hospitals in the county were under the age of 65.

"They're much less likely to get very sick and they're much more likely to recover quickly we also have improved treatment," Winkelstein explained.

Winkelstein says many lessons were learned during the first wave of COVID and now hospitals are in better shape to provide treatment.

"So the good news is that people who are coming to the hospital now we can get them better and get them home more quickly than we could in the spring," Winkelstein noted.

But the doctor is also warning everyone that it's going to be a "tough holiday season."

Dr. Peter Winkelstein, UB's Jacobs School of Medicine.

"This is going to be a very difficult holiday season. There’s no two ways around it," Winkelestein said. "This is the time we've got to get through and next spring, I think we'll be through the worst of it."

As hospitals see more COVID cases — the doctor says the best way to contain this fall outbreak is all in our hands and how we behavior.

Some hospitals are gearing up and preparing for the shift to more COVID cases.

Catholic Health announced Wednesday it will pause visitation starting Friday as a precaution.