Parts of Erie County placed in Yellow Zone micro-cluster due to rising COVID numbers. Here's what that means.

Posted at 12:03 PM, Nov 09, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Parts of Erie County are now part of a Yellow Zone micro-cluster, which places new temporary restrictions on businesses and social activities due to rising cases of COVID-19.

The areas in the cluster include:

  • Amherst
  • Aurora
  • Buffalo
  • Cheektowaga
  • Clarence
  • Elma
  • Grand Island
  • Hamburg
  • Lackawanna
  • Lancaster
  • Orchard Park
  • Tonawanda
  • West Seneca

Restrictions under a Yellow Zone include the following:

  • 25-person maximum for mass gatherings both indoors and outdoors
  • Four-person maximum at restaurant tables
  • Bars and restaurants must close at midnight
  • Mandatory weekly testing for students, teachers and staff
  • 50 percent capacity for houses of worship.

The positivity rate in the Western New York region Sunday was 4.8 percent, which was once again the highest in the state. The positivity rate in Erie County Sunday was 6.3 percent.

Statewide, the positivity rate for mico-cluster zones is 4.3 percent. Parts of Monroe County and Onondaga County are also being designated as Yellow Zones. The statewide positivity rate outside of micro-clusters is 2.6 percent.

“The microcluster approach works," Cuomo said. "The micro-cluster work is inarguable."

Cuomo pointed to several examples, including Broome County, where the positivity rate dropped from 8 percent to 3.5 percent, and Orange County, where it dropped from 12 percent to 2 percent.

According to state guidelines, Western New York will be removed from the Yellow Zone micro-cluster when there is a decline over a 10-day period and has a positivity rate below 1.5 percent for at least three consecutive days at the end of the period.

Twenty-six New Yorkers died from COVID Sunday and 1,400 people were in the hospital, including 282 in the ICU.

Despite an uptick in cases, New York has the lowest infection rate in the nation outside of Vermont and Maine, Cuomo said.