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'We have to keep this curve smooshed': Covid-19 curve flattens as cases rise

Although Erie County continues to see growth in the number of positive Covid-19 cases and those who require hospitalization, Erie County's health commissioner reported a flattening of the number.

"Every act of social distancing that we're doing now is going to be reflective of our hospital admissions and our very ill people in about one to two weeks from now," Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said during a briefing on the local impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic Monday. "That's why we have to keep it up. We have to keep this curve smooshed."

Erie County on Monday reported 104 more Covid-19 cases and three more deaths, increasing the totals to 1,163 and 30, respectively. Of those cases, 223 have recovered and 910 are active.

The increase in people requiring hospitalization is not as steep as a week ago, Burstein said. She attributed that to the numbers of county residents following proper social distancing protocols.

Burstein said the county's hospitals are still within their capacity. As of Sunday, 214 people were hospitalized. Of that number, 106 were in intensive care, with 90% on "airway assistance."

Sixteen of the 39 Covid-19 patients at Erie County Medical Center are in intensive care, as are 21 of the 32 patients at Buffalo General Medical Center, and 15 of the 31 patients at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. Catholic Health reported 36 of 57 Covid-19 patients at its St. Joseph Campus of Sisters of Charity Hospital in Cheektowaga are in intensive care.

A week ago, ECMC had 9 Covid-19 patients. The number at Millard Fillmore is more than double its case count of 15 a week ago.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz added Erie County does not have a shortage of ventilators at the moment and that no ventilators have moved outside of the area.

"So I want people to understand we haven't had our ventilators confiscated (or) seized, as some people were worried about," Poloncarz said.

"We are seeing some growth in the hospitalizations and the (intensive care unit patients), but we seem to have leveled off over the last few days, which is a good sign, but it doesn't mean we're out of the woods. It just means we're doing a little bit better job of, I think, managing the spread in our community, and we're not getting a mass amount of people going to the hospital," he added.

Meanwhile, Niagara County reported 27 newly confirmed Covid-19 cases Monday, which raises the county's total to 130. Seven of the 27 new cases are in Niagara Falls, which has 33 total. Two 1-year-old infants who were among the confirmed Covid-19 cases last week in the county have fully recovered from the virus.

Poloncarz said a large spike in cases in the 14215 ZIP code, a largely African American area on Buffalo's East Side, may be due to the disproportionate share of health care workers who live there.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also extended his PAUSE order Monday afternoon, which orders school and nonessential businesses to be closed until April 29.

Erie County's map of where Covid-19 cases are

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