Coronavirus Update
March 15, 2020

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein and Commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Daniel Neaverth Jr. have announced that there are now seven positive COVID-19 cases in Erie County. These cases were confirmed through testing at the Erie County Public Health Lab late Saturday afternoon (the first three cases) and four cases this evening. Poloncarz joined Burstein, Neaverth, Jr. and other county personnel for the announcement and to detail next steps in the investigation in a press conference earlier today.

The seven individuals have been diagnosed with COVID-19 include:

A female in her 30s who resides in Buffalo with recent out-of-state travel and a contact of a confirmed COVID 19 case; A male in his 30s who resides in Clarence, with recent travel to Westchester County (NY); A female in her 20s who resides in Grand Island with recent travel to Italy; A male in his 30s with recent travel from NYC; A female in her 30s with recent travel out of state; A female in her 20s with recent travel from NYC; and a male in his 40s with recent travel out of state.

Based on an initial review of each case by the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) epidemiology team, these individuals appear to have had separate exposures to the novel coronavirus.

ECDOH has begun an intensive investigation to identify the close contacts of these individuals. Once identified, those close contacts will be notified of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and placed under mandatory quarantine to monitor for symptoms.

Officials will be in contact today with ownership of the locations that these individuals may have visited in order to notify any and all close contacts of potential exposure.

ECDOH will release additional guidance to the public on its web site and to media with details of these locations, dates and times.

Each of these individuals has remained in their respective residences since their arrival back to Erie County. As of this date, none of these individuals have been hospitalized. Each will continue to recover at home under mandatory isolation, per NYSDOH guidelines.

In response to the confirmation of these positive cases of COVID-19 in Erie County, Poloncarz declared a State of Emergency which was put into effect today at 12:00 PM. The State of Emergency will allow Erie County to better respond to this public health crisis and allocate the necessary resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The State of Emergency will remain in effect until rescinded by an order from the County Executive.

“Today I am declaring a state of emergency to be in effect following the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community. In addition, I will be asking the legislature to approve an allocation of $5 million in rollover funding from the 2019 surplus to be dedicated to costs associated with the COVID-19 emergency,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “I am also ordering that all schools in Erie County be closed tomorrow, Monday, March 16 (which has since been revised. All schools in Erie County are now closed until April 20). However, teachers and administrative staff should report on Monday unless otherwise directed by their superintendents.”

Dr. Burstein reminds county residents and physicians that ECDOH continues to follow the COVID-19 testing criteria established by the NYSDOH. “We are sure to find additional cases as more Erie County residents are tested,” Health Commissioner Burstein explained. “Our goal right now is to identify new cases rapidly, and prevent or limit secondary transmission.”

ECDOH has set up an information line for residents to call with questions about COVID-19 at 716-858-2929. This hotline will be staffed Mondays through Fridays from 9am until 9pm. Hours may change based on call volume.

Erie County Department of Health, COVID-19 Information Line 716-858-2929 (M-F 9am-9pm)
Erie County Department of Health COVID-19 resource
New York State Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065
New York State Department of Health, Novel Coronavirus:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronovirus 
World Health Organization Coronavirus