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Erie County death toll from Covid-19 rises by nine to 39

Erie County on Tuesday saw its largest one-day increase in Covid-19-related deaths, and the number of people hospitalized continues to grow, with about half of them sent to intensive care or requiring a ventilator.

"We're seeing an increasing number of very sick people being admitted to our hospitals," Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said.

Nine more people in Erie County died from Covid-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, bringing the county's total for the pandemic to 39, according to figures released by the county. The prior single-day mark came Thursday when seven deaths were announced.

Erie County health officials also confirmed an additional 72 cases of Covid-19 in Erie County as of early Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total cases in the county to 1,235.

As of Sunday, there were 203 people hospitalized with Covid-19, 114 of whom were in intensive care, with 108 of those individuals receiving an "airway assist," County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

Though downstate may have reached its peak and is now plateauing, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Western New York region is unlikely to see its peak until the end of April to mid-May, Poloncarz said.

He added that he hoped the peak wouldn't be until later because if it's sooner, more than 10,000 people in this region will require hospitalization, which is well over the county's capacity. Poloncarz said he has already approved locations for mobile refrigerator cars to accommodate an overflow of dead bodies.

Poloncarz was asked about the concentration of confirmed Covid-19 cases on Buffalo's East Side as well as the high rate of African American deaths being reported in other major cities. He was unsure about what additional outreach the county can do in neighborhoods with higher levels of minority populations.

On Twitter late Tuesday, the county executive tweeted that 11 of the 39 deaths – or 28% – were African American.

Niagara County on Tuesday announced its first Covid-19-related death.

While there appears to be some indication that the coronavirus curve is flattening statewide, the death toll on Monday was 731, the largest one-day total of the pandemic so far.

"We talk about numbers, but behind those 731 people who we lost, behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, a sister, a brother, so a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers," Cuomo said.

[Related: Where Western New York's coronavirus cases are, county by county]

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