Share this article

print logo

Erie County reports first case of coronavirus community spread as region tries to add hospital beds

As the battle intensified against the coronavirus, Erie County saw its first case of community spread and the first patient hospitalized.

The news came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced health experts are warning him that COVID-19 cases will peak in about 45 days.

Surveying the state's number of available hospital beds amid the coronavirus crisis, Cuomo said Tuesday that "the numbers are daunting."

Local officials are scrambling for more hospital beds too.

"If you want me to go out and say: 'Do we have enough beds to cover what we think is coming?' I can't give you that answer and say yes. I have to say no," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

One of the four people whose positive test results were announced Tuesday had not traveled recently, Poloncarz said.

"We believe this is the first case of community spread in Erie County," he added.

Also, among the new cases is a woman in her 50s, now isolated in a negative-pressure room at a local hospital – the first person to be hospitalized in the county with the virus.

The county also found itself on the verge of running out of COVID-19 test kits. The county had 450 for its lab and has more than 300 tests completed or pending.

“We’re coming up to our capability,” Poloncarz said.

Tuesday was another surreal day amid the pandemic.

The Elmwood Village looked empty. Few rode Metro Rail. The state suspended its collection of medical and student debt.

Schools opened their doors to allow parents and students to pick up assignments and laptops from teachers who spent the weekend preparing weeks of lessons. Free meals were distributed throughout the city to make sure children would be fed. Families embarked on a new world of online learning.

And workers in restaurants, bars and hotels saw their jobs disappear.

“The bills don’t stop, but the income does,” said Greg Avila-Shah, a line cook at Feature Eatery, who learned Monday night that he was being furloughed from the popular downtown lunch spot.

Story topics: /

There are no comments - be the first to comment