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Second Erie County death, projects put on hold as Cuomo calls for 15,000 more ventilators

Call it a bleak day for Buffalo's economy: Delaware North announced Wednesday that it was placing two-thirds of its full-time workers on leave and reducing the pay of those who remained.

Also, M&T Bank paused construction on its highly anticipated "tech hub" in Seneca One tower, a project aiming to bring 1,500 new jobs to the downtown high-rise.

"Construction will resume as soon as it is deemed safe for workers to return to the job site," said Julia Berchou, an M&T spokeswoman.

But when will that be?

While a $2 trillion stimulus plan was being meted out in Washington, Gov. Andrew Cuomo demanded more money for the state. And school districts across Western New York – with schools closed at least through spring break and tens of thousands of children learning via the internet – tried to plan budgets for an uncertain future.

In Albany, Cuomo again called for more ventilators to help save the lives of the sickest Covid-19 patients. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted the temporarily shuttered solar panel factory in Buffalo "will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible."

The state has its hands on 15,000 breathing machines. That's half the anticipated need, Cuomo said, as the state's number of confirmed cases rose to over 30,000. There are roughly 360 ventilators in the Buffalo Niagara region. More will be needed, officials said, based on Covid-19 projections.

Meanwhile, a second death from Covid-19 in Erie County was announced Wednesday evening.

The Erie County Health Department, which received a new shipment for coronavirus testing, reopened a drive-thru facility in Amherst. But testing is limited to health care workers, people living in group settings, law enforcement and women about to give birth or who just gave birth and have symptoms.

The Health Department provided one hopeful figure: Four county residents have recovered from the virus.

But with more tests, more people learned they had been stricken.

Among the latest confirmed: a Buffalo police officer in critical condition.

A 28-year-old Williamsville mother infected with the virus cautioned other young people that they are not immune.

"In order to stop the spread, we need to stay home," Mercedez Deshae Mitchell posted on Facebook. "I wish that is something I really would have took seriously."

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