Erie County gives locations where positive COVID-19 cases visited

Mar 16, 2020

Seven individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Erie County and officials are asking anyone who visited certain locations over the past two weeks to self-monitor for symptoms.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, in an early afternoon news conference Monday, gave details about who has tested positive and where they went, in an attempt to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Nine samples were tested Sunday at the Erie County Public Health Lab. The latest positive cases, who are all currently isolated in quarantine in private residences, include:

  • A man in his 30s who recently traveled to New York City,
  • A woman in her 30s who recently traveled out of state,
  • A woman in her 20s who recently traveled to New York City
  • A man in his 40s who recently traveled out of state

Those individuals live in Buffalo, Amherst, Elma and Orchard Park. Previous cases came from Buffalo, Clarence and Grand Island, making the total now seven confirmed tests in Erie County.

Seventy-five individuals have been tested in the county, with 18 reporting negative and the rest pending. None of the positive cases are currently hospitalized.

Poloncarz noted the new cases are not older adults, who are most vulnerable to the disease.

“The only confirmed cases are individuals who are not seniors. They are individuals who are 40 and younger," Poloncarz said.

Burstein said testing is being conducted based on symptoms, not just travel history. She said those being tested include people who came into contact with a positive case, people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, and people who traveled to China, Italy, Iran, or South Korea in the past 14 days. Names were obtained based on investigations by the Department of Health.

County officials released a list of locations where people who have tested positive have gone in the community. Anyone who has been in the following locations on these dates is asked to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms:

  • Mar. 4 United Airlines Flight Eagle United No. 6028 from Austin to Washington, D.C.
  • Mar. 4 United Flight 4810 Washington, D.C. to Buffalo
  • Mar. 9 Amtrak Train #49 from New York City to Buffalo, arrived around midnight
  • Mar. 10 Walden Galleria (specific time not yet available)
  • Mar. 11 Wegmans, Alberta Drive, Amherst, 12-12:30 p.m.
  • Mar. 12 Aldi, Transit Rd., Depew, around 6:30 p.m.
  • Mar. 13 Rite Aid, North Buffalo Rd., Orchard Park, 7-8 p.m.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. More locations will be announced later Monday. County officials said they were working on more specific details of the time of day the positive individual visited the Walden Galleria.

“There are thousands of potential contacts out there right now. We have to go on the assumption that it’s everywhere," Poloncarz said.

Erie County has set up a COVID-19 hotline at (716) 858-2929. Anyone who calls is asked to be patient, with a high call volume expected. Residents who are concerned they may need to be tested are asked to first contact their primary healthcare provider or local urgent care by phone, and not to clog up hospital emergency departments.

"We’re asking people to hunker down, stay at home, pay attention to your symptoms, pay attention to if you have a fever, cough, or any respiratory systems, and limit your travel. Limit all non-essential travel,” Burstein said.

Poloncarz said the county is looking into reopening healthcare facilities that have closed in recent years.

Earlier Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theaters would be closed as of 8 p.m., statewide. Poloncarz said he believes the order came down, in part because of numerous photos showing establishments and their patrons not taking new capacity restrictions seriously.

The county executive said with local restaurants and their workers hurting from the situation, residents can still support them by ordering takeout or delivery.

WBFO's Avery Schneider, Chris Caya and Ryan Zunner contributed to this report.