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Latest on COVID-19: 'We believe there to be more cases in Erie County'

Erie County has its first case of community spread of the COVID-19 and first patient hospitalized for the virus.

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

"We believe this is the first case of community spread in Erie County," Poloncarz said of the cases.

Also, one of the new cases, described as a woman in her 50s, is isolated in a local hospital. She would be the first person who is being hospitalized in Erie County for treatment of the respiratory virus.

Poloncarz announced four new cases of the coronavirus disease Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in Erie County to 11.

The four new cases are:

  • A female in her 50s, who is isolated in a local hospital
  • A female in her 50s, with no recent travel, who is in private isolation at a private residence
  • A male in his 40s, with recent travel out of state, who is in isolation in a private residence.
  • A male in his 30s, with recent travel out of state, who is currently in isolation in a private residence.

The four cases include two people from the City of Buffalo and two in Amherst; one of the Amherst cases is from the Village of Williamsville.

"As we have said, we believe there to be more cases in Erie County," Poloncarz said.

[Related: Where those with COVID-19 visited, traveled in recent weeks]

The county was unable to give its nightly COVID-19 update Monday evening because it said a technical glitch affected lab testing. The issue delayed lab results for the day's samples and the county said the testing was to occur overnight. The health department did not elaborate on what caused the problem.

There were 41 samples tested Monday night at the Erie County lab, 29 from Erie County; 25 were negative.

There are also now 53 people who had contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19 who are under mandatory quarantine, officials said.

Also, Poloncarz said there are discussions underway to reopen Lakeshore Hospital in Irving to provide additional hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

"We do know there is going to be a much greater need in this community," Poloncarz said.

He said he has been having conversations with former Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello, who is now a state senator, about the possibility.

The county is also looking at reopening recently shuttered nursing homes to provide beds.

"We are planning to address the worst and hope for the best," he said.

Poloncarz said Tuesday's press conference would be the last in-person press conference for precautionary reasons.

"It's just a better way to deal with this ongoing crisis," he said.

On Monday afternoon, the county issued a public advisory regarding places that those with COVID-19 visited as well as some methods of travel that were used by those who were infected.

The previous seven cases of COVID-19 in Erie County involve two residents of Buffalo as well as individuals from Amherst, Clarence, Elma, Grand Island and Orchard Park.

Those cases involve:

• A woman in her 30s who recently traveled out of state.
• A man in his 30s who recently traveled to Westchester County.
• A woman in her 20s who recently traveled to Italy.
• A man in his 30s, with recent travel from New York City.
• A woman in her 30s, who recently traveled out of state.
• A woman in her 20s, with recent travel from New York City.
• A man in his 40s, who traveled out of state recently.

All of those patients are in quarantine in personal homes and are not hospitalized, Poloncarz said Monday.

In a separate development Tuesday morning, the Buffalo Sabres announced that a relative of a Sabres employee, who lives out of state, recently tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Sabres home game March 5.

According to the Sabres, the individual, who was asymptomatic at the time, sat in Section 211 for the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sabres said the Erie County Department of Health advised the Sabres that based on CDC Guidelines the asymptomatic individual would likely not have been infectious during the game.

The Erie County Department of Health has advised people who think they may have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 to self-monitor their health for symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath) during the 14-day period since potential exposure. Health officials have said that COVID-19 can be contagious even if carriers are asymptomatic.

Where those with COVID-19 visited, traveled in recent weeks

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