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Erie County contact tracers two days behind

COVID cases "exploding" according to County Health Officials
Posted at 7:38 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 23:47:49-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Health Officials say with the explosion of COVID-19 cases across WNY, contact tracers are now at least two days behind in contacting those who may have had exposure to a COVID positive person.

"That person should put themselves in quarantine," said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner. "There is going to be a time lag before a contact tracer can get to you."

Erie County says its hiring additional contact tracers. Officials say with the low numbers, many tracers went back to their other jobs in county government. Now, they are looking to bring them back.

The county says it has added 10 tracers in the last week. It has between 40-50 right now.

Health officials say at least 40% of new cases have been asymptomatic, meaning the person has not exhibited any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Health Commissioner Burstein says if you're waiting for a test, you must isolate.

"Just because you have not been contacted by a contact tracer doesn’t mean that you’re safe, doesn’t meant that if you know you have a positive COVID test that you haven’t been contacted by a contact tracer doesn’t mean you can go out, go outside and do whatever you want," said Burstein.

“We do need to continue to turn the tide before this spirals out of control. We do not like what we’re seeing," said Poloncarz.

Health officials in Erie County say there have been instances of people, not feeling well, who have attended parties or gatherings and then spread the virus.

"We're hearing case after case of people who knew they were sick and went to work. Knew they were sick and partied with friends," Poloncarz said.

As for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, county leaders say limit your gatherings to your immediate family only, and do not travel outside the state.

"Don't invite visitors from outside the area or outside your home," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said there is still hope the numbers can turn around, if and only if, the community responds accordingly.

“We need to think about we, not me. Otherwise there will be some ugly shutdowns coming forth," said Poloncarz.