Western New York state is being crippled by COVID-19, with cases increasing tenfold in the city of Buffalo in the past month alone.
The city – which is located on the US -Canada border and is home to more than 250,000 people – has had a positive test rate above five percent for the past two weeks, and experts fear Thanksgiving celebrations could further fuel the surge in infections.
‘The second wave is here, and it is here with a vengeance,’ Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz stated at a news conference Wednesday, adding that area is being ‘annihlated’ by the virus.
Buffalo is located in Erie County, which is now clocking an average of 3,449 new infections per week – up from just 322 last month.
Meanwhile, the number of residents being hospitalized with the virus has nearly tripled in the past three weeks.
Poloncarz says the first wave of coronavirus infections which battered Buffalo this past spring was significantly different from the current wave.
He told The New York Times that multigenerational households in the county’s poorer neighborhoods bore the brunt of the first wave, while the virus now appears to be disproportionately affecting wealthier residents.
In some Buffalo zip codes, the positivity rate is climbing towards 10 percent, according to WIVB.
Western New York state is being crippled by COVID-19, with cases increasing tenfold in the city of Buffalo in the past month alone. Pictured: A nurse tends to a patient on a ventilator at a hospital in Buffalo
This graph shows hospitalizations in Western New York on the rise as the area battles a second wave. In Erie County, the number of residents in hospital with COVID-19 has almost tripled in the past three weeks alone
Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz says Western New York state is being ‘annihlated’ by the virus
The current surge in infections began shortly after October 31, prompting some epidemiologists to theorize that Halloween parties held by locals with lockdown fatigue could have fueled the spread.
University of Buffalo professor Dr. Thomas A. Russo told the Times that a ‘small but significant minority resisting masking and other restrictions’ could also be making the situation worse.
‘Even 20 percent of people not complying is enough [to cause widespread infection]’, Dr. Russo told the publication.
Despite the high positivity rate, Buffalo has thus far avoided a complete shut down. Nonessential businesses are still open and public gatherings are still allowed.
However, Gov. Cuomo says he is keeping a close eye on the situation.
‘We’re watching the numbers. We’re going to watch through this Thanksgiving season,’ he said Wednesday.
Gov. Cuomo says he is keeping a close eye on the situation unfolding in Western New York state
Erie County (seen in orange in the inset graph) is considered one of the state’s worst cluster zones
His comments came on the same day that New York state recorded its deadliest day in the coronavirus pandemic since May, with 67 new deaths.
The total is the highest since May 29, when 67 people also died. The number of daily deaths had hit a low of one on both August 30 and September 20, before cases and deaths began to climb again.
The troubling statistics were unveiled by Cuomo during his Thanksgiving Day coronavirus briefing on Thursday, in which he also revealed a ‘winter plan’ in anticipation of an spike in cases during the colder months.
‘What we are going to be doing through this Thanksgiving weekend and into next week, we are going to be working now on a winter plan,’ Cuomo said. ‘All the global experts say the same thing: this virus has phases and as the phases change your plan should change.’
While the state will need to assess the consequence of holiday celebrations in its plan, Cuomo said: ‘there are a number of theories about how bad the increase will be after thanksgiving, but they all project an increase post-Thanksgiving.
‘We see the air travelers increase, we see the car travelers increase and we know that the more social activity the higher the infection rate,’ he continued.
Formerly the US epicenter, New York has recorded 620,000 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began in March, and 26,549 deaths.
Across New York State Thursday, based on 200,000 tests, the overall infection rate was 3.1 percent, and 3.3 percent on Long Island and 2.5 percent in New York City
New York reported its deadliest day since May 29 on Wednesday, with 67 deaths reported across the state