The number of intensive care units is growing more slowly due to improvements in care, despite 40 people dying from the virus as early as November, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths in the county to 788.
In an encouraging sign, Erie County’s infection rate has dropped to around 7 percent in the past few days, suggesting some restrictions are having an impact. After the news got in, there are now lines that allow coronavirus testing to be done and the masking in public places is generally good, residents said, although there have been some setbacks regarding current virus restrictions.
“I think the vast majority of the people in my community take this seriously, whether they live in Buffalo City or in a rural community,” Democrat Poloncarz said in an interview. “But there are some people who don’t. And unfortunately these people put the entire community at risk for further shutdowns. “
How Western New York got here is not clear. Local epidemiologists and officials say there wasn’t a major outbreak that triggered this second wave. Multi-generation households in the poorer neighborhoods of Buffalo that suffered disproportionately in early spring – when more than 500 people died in the county – weren’t hardest hit this time around.
Rather, Mr Poloncarz said, the spike appears to begin in November in the more affluent, more conservative suburbs, where people in private gatherings, bars, or restaurants appear to have not taken enough precautions. The surge also began in the days after Halloween, leading some epidemiologists to believe that parties played a role.
But the transmission is so widespread in the county at this point that irresponsible behavior is not required to get sick, said Dr. Thomas A. Russo, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo. In what he calls the “innocent bystander effect”, many infections now spread among family members in private homes caused by asymptomatic people.
Coupled with the small but significant minority opposed to masking and other restrictions, the virus is finding enough hosts to fuel ongoing transmission through the community, he said. Even 20 percent of people who don’t stick to it are enough, he added.