More than 117,000 Western New Yorkers have contracted Covid-19 since March 2020 and more than 2,300 have died of it.
The five-county region – Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties – had reported declining case counts, hospitalizations and deaths since its second-wave peak in January, as vaccinations ramp up across the region and more people acquire immunity. However, cases and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks with the average daily caseload rising to its highest level since early February.
As of April 16, more than 529,000 Western New Yorkers had one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 363,000 were fully vaccinated.
Regional vaccine providers had administered an average of more than 15,700 Covid-19 shots per day over the past week.
But disparities emerged early in the rollout. Rural areas have complained about what they describe as low vaccine allocations. White Western New Yorkers also make up a greater share of the vaccinated than they do of the overall population. Western New Yorkers of color have received vaccines at a disproportionately low rate, by comparison.
Public health experts and officials, both locally and at the federal level, say the effect of the vaccines can already be seen across a range of pandemic-tracking metrics. Western New York’s average “positive test rate” fell sharply, for instance, after hitting an all-time high of 8.8% on Jan. 5.
But while the positive rate remains well below its peak, it has climbed steadily since mid-March. So too have new infections, perhaps reflecting the statewide relaxation of public health restrictions or the spread of more contagious Covid-19 variants.
Hospitalizations have also risen, though fewer Western New Yorkers are hospitalized with Covid-19 now than at the peak of the second wave. Many of the region's most at-risk people, such as nursing home residents, have since been vaccinated.
Case counts have risen moderately across the state and country since mid-March, as well. For comparison, the state's infection levels are roughly 10 to 12 times what they were last summer.
Nearly two million New Yorkers have contracted Covid-19 and more than 41,400 have died in the past 13 months. Across the U.S., more than 31.5 million total cases — and 565,778 deaths — have now been reported.
This page will be updated daily with the latest statistics from the state and county departments of health, as well as new data from The New York Times' national Covid-19 tracking project. You can get the latest updates by bookmarking this page or subscribing to The Buffalo News' daily Covid-19 newsletter.