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New Covid-19 cases reach highest level since January
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New Covid-19 cases reach highest level since January

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Covid-19 vaccine

The number of new Covid-19 cases on Friday in Erie County was the highest since January. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Erie County reported 714 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, the highest single-day total since January.

The rise comes amid concerns that the vaccine's effectiveness may be waning among people who received their doses the earliest. At the same time, experts say the vaccines are doing their job preventing serious illness and death in most people.

In Western New York hospitals Thursday, there were 293 Covid-19 patients who were hospitalized, 54 of whom were in intensive care units, according to the state Department of Health. That was up from 246 hospitalized Covid-19 patients a month earlier, 46 of whom were in intensive care.

The county Health Department reported that as of Monday, 77.1% of county residents 20 or older had received at least one dose of vaccine.

County data released in the past week indicated that school-age children were largely driving an increase in Covid-19 caseloads. Of 2,690 newly confirmed Covid-19 cases, 690 were in people ages 18 and under. That was 25.6% of the total, and an increase of 180 cases among children in the county in the space of a week.

Covid-19 cases in the county are increasing as families prepare to meet up for Thanksgiving and the seasonal drop in temperatures moves more gatherings indoors.

"The increase in reported Erie County Covid-19 cases and positivity rate is part of a concerning trend throughout Western New York and other parts of New York state," said Kara Kane, a county Health Department spokeswoman.

Kane said a county analysis of the past week's data will be released Tuesday, but, in general, increases are occurring across all age groups.

Kane said the increase in Covid-19 patients in Erie County hospitals is also a serious concern.

"Available hospital beds are dwindling, especially in the intensive care units," she said.

"We realize that pandemic fatigue is real and the preventative measures we continue to recommend are hard to maintain," Kane added. "However, these are the tools we know that work to protect individual and community health. Since Covid-19 is so widespread, Erie County residents should consider checking their Covid-19 status with a Covid-19 home test before they go to any social gathering with friends or family to keep everyone safe."

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that 10 mass vaccination sites across the state, including at the University at Buffalo's South Campus, are now open to children 5 to 11 years old

"Parents have been waiting for the ability to protect their young children from Covid-19, and we are doing everything we can to make that possible," Hochul said.

Matt Glynn

The Buffalo News: Good Morning, Buffalo

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