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Why WNY COVID rates are rising

"We are not out of this mess yet"
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Posted at 4:48 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 12:38:17-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “We are not out of this mess yet,” declared Dr. Thomas Russo, chief, Infectious Diseases, Jacobs School of Medicine.

We are still not out of the woods with the COVID pandemic, in fact in the Western New York region there are some of the highest COVID positivity rates in the state.

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Erie County COVID rates & information.

Right now, that rate in our region stands at 6.3-percent. Only the Finger Lakes region, which includes Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties is higher at more than 6.5, while the state-wide the average is at 2.8-percent.

“We seem to be stuck in that plateau right now,” remarked Dr. Joseph Chow, president, WNY Immediate Care.

“What is causing this higher rate right now?" Buckley asked.

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Dr. Thomas Russo, chief, Infectious Diseases, Jacobs School of Medicine, in Zoom interview.

“Well we are going in the wrong direction here in Western New York and I think there are multiply factors responsible,” Dr. Russo responded.

UB’s Dr. Russo and WNY Immediate Care’s Dr. Joseph Chow tell 7 Eyewitness News there are at least three main reasons why COVID cases continue to climb in the Western New York region.

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Reasons for higher COVID rates in WNY.

As colder weather arrives, we are all moving indoors where the virus can spread quickly. Those who were vaccinated six months ago or more could have their immunity waning and there are still individuals who are not yet vaccinated, including many young children.

“We still need to be careful. We need to minimize high risk behaviors. We need to continue to vaccinate the unvaccinated. We need to continue to get booster shots into the arms of those individuals that are eligible,” Dr. Russo explained.

Both Dr. Russo and Dr. Chow also say the delta variant is also another reason for the rise in COVID cases.

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Dr. Joseph Chow, president, WNY Immediate Care, in Zoom interview.

“What's your best advice right now to the public?” Buckley questioned.

“I think vaccination is still going to be our best bets and again now there is several layers — getting the kids who are now eligible for one, getting the boosters, if you are eligible for that, which is a pretty broad category now,” replied Dr. Chow.

Right now, in Western New York the rate of COVID cases this November is higher than this time last year.

For November 8, 2020, the positivity rate was 3.8-percent, compared to the current 6.3-percent.

Many schools across the region are also seeing spikes in cases.

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Sean Croft, superintendent, Starpoint Central School District, in Zoom interview.

“Last year we had ten cases among students and staff across September and October and this year we've had over 60 in that same time frame,” said Sean Croft, superintendent, Starpoint Central School District.

Superintendent Croft says with students back to full, in-person learning, cases forced quarantines for some kids who have lost on average 4.8-school days and they were never sick.

That's why Croft says he obtained an Abbott ID Now Rapid PCR Test machine.

Students are required to have a negative PCR test to return to school, but results have been taking too long.

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Abbott ID Now Rapid PCR Test machine.

“Now we can bring them down, with parental consent, give them that COVID test and then we know for sure — okay we've eliminated COVID from equation,” Croft noted.

Croft and health experts say now that 5 to 11-year-olds are eligible for the COVID vaccine, it should help change the pandemic landscape.