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Erie County sets another single-day high for coronavirus cases

Erie County sets another single-day high for coronavirus cases

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Erie County has established another single-day record high for coronavirus cases.

The county reported Thursday that it had 718 positive cases during Wednesday's testing. 

The previous high was 651, reported on Nov. 19. 

In a sign of the increased spread in Erie County, new single-day records have been set throughout November.

The high for the county had long been 268, which was set during the early days of the pandemic on May 4.

On Nov. 7, 385 became the new record. New highs were established in the next five days with 446 on Nov. 10 and then 534 on Nov. 12, which became the first of three straight Thursdays which have seen a new record. 

Erie County's seven-day average of new cases through Wednesday is 534.

The record total helped push the five-county Western New York region past another landmark: 30,000 coronavirus cases. Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties now have reported 30,607 Covid-19 cases during the pandemic, more than a third of which have come in November. 

The region's hospitalizations also continue to rise to unprecedented heights. 

According to state data, Western New York had 350 patients hospitalized due to Covid-19 as of Wednesday. The region's total has tripled in a 16-day span. The total was 109 on Nov. 9 and it has increased every day since.  

According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, 292 of the 350 hospitalized were in Erie County hospitals. Erie County hospitals had 62 of the region's 73 intensive care patients through Wednesday. The county had 24 patients intubated.  

Poloncarz said there were six deaths in Erie County hospitals on Wednesday.

The latest rates released by the state for Erie County's "orange zone" and "yellow zone" show that both continue to be well above the state's criteria for going to a more restrictive "red zone."

State guidelines state that a seven-day average positive rate over 4% for 10 straight days can place an area into the "red zone," where all nonessential businesses would be closed and all social gatherings would be prohibited.  

When asked Wednesday about Erie County's high rates and the possibility of any zone designations changing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state will be monitoring rates through the Thanksgiving weekend.

The "orange zone" encompasses most of Erie County, including Buffalo and its closest suburbs.

The "orange zone" average rate remains high, but it has seen a slight but continued decline in rates over nine days. According to state data, the "orange zone" had a 7.46% average rate on Nov. 17 and was down to 6.81% for Wednesday's testing, with the average rate decreasing for four straight days. 

Erie County's "yellow zone," which includes its easternmost and southernmost towns, has seen an overall increase during an up-and-down nine days. The "yellow zone" has bounced between 6.0% and 7.6% since Nov. 17 (6.22%) and Wednesday (6.92%). 

Niagara County's "yellow zone" has seen its average rate increase by a full percentage point over nine days, from 5.04% on Nov. 17 to 6.14% on Wednesday. Due to its smaller population, the state has different zone thresholds for Niagara County: it would need to be over 4% for 10 days to move to an orange zone and 10 days over 5% for a red zone.   

The positive rate for the Western New York region is at a seven-day rolling average of 5.5%, the highest it has been since May. 

Western New York continues to have the highest rates among the state's 10 regions. No other region's rate is higher than 4% and the statewide average is 3.0%.

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News Staff Reporter

Long Island native, University at Buffalo graduate, part of the breaking news and criminal justice team for two years. Hired by The News in 1999, I covered high school sports for 15 years before being named deputy sports editor.

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