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Hospitalizations and loss of revenue show Covid-19's impact on WNY

Erie County is seeing more new hospitalizations than two downstate counties, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday – a sign the Buffalo Niagara region is far from out of the woods when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"If you look at the past few days, where the cases have been coming from," Cuomo said, "it’s the downstate region, and then upstate it’s Erie County."

While hospitals deal with Covid-19 patients, health officials in Erie County worry some people with health problems aren't seeking medical treatment at local hospitals because they're scared of catching the virus.

And with fiscal budgets due, local governments are grappling with the economic fallout.

Every Erie County department and independently elected county office has two weeks to submit a budget plan that would cut costs by 13.1%, in anticipation of major revenue shortfalls, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown was counting on $65 million in federal pandemic aid that's yet to be approved to keep taxes the same or even lower under the budget he unveiled Friday.

With the "pause" on non-essential businesses stretching into a third month, there were other signs of strain Friday.

Buffalo police shut down a Black Rock social club that was violating the order.

And about 70 to 80 protesters turned out on the steps of the Rath Building Friday afternoon to demand that businesses be allowed to get to work again, even as researchers say there's no evidence yet in Erie County of a two-week decline in hospitalizations that would allow for a safe restart.

Others found new ways to cope with life during a pandemic.

Cardinal O'Hara High School Principal Mary Holzerland came up with a novel way to hold graduation that she's hoping will get approved: a ceremony at the Transit Drive-In in Lockport. "It's not ideal, it’s not perfect, but at least it lets these kids have some closure," she said.

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