Western New York hit a new, potentially deadly milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, post-vaccine. Yesterday, November 28, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul released the state's COVID-19 update and there was bad news for our region. Along with the honor of having the highest 7-day average COVID-19 positivity rate, we have now exceeded 10 percent. For the past couple of weeks, we had been hovering in the high 8 to 9 percent range, but we've officially crossed the line. Friday, November 26, and Saturday, November 27, we had positivity rates of 10.15% and 10.30, respectively. For comparison, the statewide averages on both of those days were 3.95% and 4.05%, respectively. While we do have the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in the state, we are not alone in failing to get the spread of this deadly virus under control. Seven of the 10 regions across New York State have rates above 5 percent (they are bolded below):

RegionThursday, November 25, 2021Friday, November 26, 2021Saturday, November 27, 2021
Capital Region6.96%7.08%7.62%
Central New York6.46%6.90%6.68%
Finger Lakes8.85%9.41%9.61%
Long Island4.40%4.43%4.62%
Mohawk Valley7.75%9.25%9.30%
New York City1.65%1.69%1.81%
North Country7.82%8.33%8.92%
Southern Tier4.99%5.39%5.81%
Western New York9.67%10.15%10.30%

WNY has been trending in the wrong direction for weeks now. Erie County Executive, Mark Poloncarz announced last week that the new mandate has been put in place to try to lower WNY's COVID-19 positivity rate,

Erie County will implement a 4 phase approach. Effective as of 11/23/21, we will enter into Phase One. There will be a mask mandate for all patrons and public facing staff, inside all public locations in Erie County. If Phase 1 can reduce the number of positive cases and decrease our hospital admission numbers, then we can prevent entering into a Phase 2. The plan is to assess the need for additional measures using COVID-19 case data, case rate and hospitalizations, unless conditions require an earlier implementation.


Gov. Hochul Issues Warning To New Yorkers About New COVID-19 Variant

With the news that a new COVID-19 variant has been discovered, Governor Hochul issued a warning to New York residents. The new Omicron variant was found in South Africa initially but has since shown up in Israel, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization says this new variant is concerning,

This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant.

As many regions across New York State are already struggling to keep the Delta variant under control, Governor Hochul issued a statement on the new variant, warning residents to be vigilant in protecting themselves,

"I want to remind New Yorkers to continue taking the precautionary steps we know reduce the spread of this deadly virus: wear a mask in indoor public places, use proper hand hygiene, get tested, and stay home when sick. The vaccine also remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and this news further emphasizes the need for each of us to get vaccinated and get the booster if you're fully vaccinated."

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