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Weekly totals of new Covid-19 infections decline for first time since July
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Weekly totals of new Covid-19 infections decline for first time since July

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New cases of Covid-19 in Erie County declined 1.7% over the seven days ending Oct. 16, the first weekly decline in new cases of the virus since July, according to statistics released Tuesday by the county Department of Health.

The Health Department received reports of 1,818 new cases of Covid-19 among county residents, 32 fewer than the 1,850 cases reported for the week ending Oct. 9.

The case rate of 191 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents for the week ending Oct. 16 is a decrease from the previous week’s case rate of 194. But it is still well above the case rate threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a community to be considered to have “high transmission” of the disease.

The county Health Department reported that Buffalo accounted for 29% of the new Covid-19 cases in Erie County last week. Buffalo residents make up 29% of the county's population.

The ZIP codes with the highest seven-day case rates per 100,000 residents last week were in the Southtowns, including 32 new cases in the 14141 ZIP code in Springville; 30 new cases in the 14057 ZIP code in Eden; and 19 new cases in the 14085 ZIP code in Lake View. In the 14072 ZIP code on Grand Island, there were 68 new cases of Covid-19, and 68 in the 14086 ZIP code in Lancaster.

County health officials stressed that the smaller populations in such communities could significantly influence case rates.

Meanwhile, most cases of Covid-19 in the county continue to be in the 20-to-29 and 30-to-39-year-old age groups. For children under 18 years old, the case totals of 406 for the week ending Oct. 16 were practically unchanged from the previous week, which totaled 404 cases.

The school team in the county Health Department's Office of Epidemiology is managing a steady number of Covid-19 cases among school staff and students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Data for the past two weeks are incomplete because official test reports are pending, officials said.

According to the Health Department, about 85% of the new cases in the 12-to-17-year-old group were not fully vaccinated prior to infection. About 50% of all children in that age group in Erie County were fully vaccinated at the time the county released its report. Officials said that means 50% of the unvaccinated 12-to-17-year-old population accounts for 85% of the confirmed Covid-19 cases among this age group.

The Health Department reported that there was a slight decline in test reports for Covid-19 from the previous week, when there were about about 43,000 tests.

Officials said that there is still substantial diagnostic testing capacity for Covid-19 available in Erie County through the Health Department and private health care providers.

Testing is strongly recommended for those experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status, county health officials said.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that a new centralized website for Covid-19 data in New York State has been launched with new data aimed at increasing transparency. Hochul said the new website will include a reorganization of previously released data aimed at making the information easier for the public to access, read and comprehend.

Rather than having to navigate different dashboards on different platforms, she said the new website hosts a single landing page for Covid-19 dashboards for ease of access. The homepage links to 16 key data pages that are organized into five major categories. Also, several dashboards that were created early in the pandemic have been retooled by the state Department of Health to provide information that is easier to understand and more relevant to current needs. 

The Buffalo News: Good Morning, Buffalo

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