The total number of COVID-19 tests is starting to rise in Erie County, but none have been positive for the virus. County officials say there may well be an active case in the county now, but it hasn't shown up in a test.
The county has pulled every emergency plan in its files and changed them to reflect the shift from worrying about too much snow to worrying about a possibly lethal novel coronavirus circulating across the planet.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the plans have to be ready.
"Seventeen county residents have been tested by all the labs, one the CDC, 9 New York State, 7 Erie County, and all of those tests have come back negative," he said. "Twelve non-county residents have been tested here in our lab. We are aware, of course, that one was a positive and that was Monroe County and 11 others have been negative. The lab is currently testing 9 county residents and 11 non-county residents."
Cautions include his call on locals to not use this St. Patrick's weekend as an excuse to go partying. He won't be, was his message to reporters during a news conference Thursday. Poloncarz said the unknown is in the bars.
"May not be a parade, but there's going to be lots of places where you might find a hundred people in there. You don't know what they have. A lot of people want to have a good time, but your good time could infect you," he said. "Depending on your health condition you might get through it okay, but we all love our moms and dads and our grandparents, and if we went home and infected grandma and killed her, that's a bad thing."
One of the few obvious lessons of the COVID-19 crisis is that it is incredibly dangerous to older people, shown by the death toll in Italy and in a Seattle-area nursing home where 19-residents have died.