Monroe, Erie County health leaders issue COVID ‘call to action’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe and Erie County health leaders held a joint COVID-19 briefing Monday afternoon to issue a "call to action" as COVID numbers continue to rise in both regions.

The briefing included Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. The leaders were also joined by the Chief Medical Officers of the region’s larger healthcare systems.

To cut down on the spread, both Bello and Poloncarz called on people to use "common sense" strategies. This includes masking and physical distancing down to vaccinations. Poloncarz added none of the leaders are interested in adding mandates as seen previously.

Mendoza added that "we don’t need to shut everything down" but encouraged people to be vigilant, including masking at large social gatherings or testing beforehand.

According to Bello, the county is reporting 347 new cases, with a seven-day average of 418 as of Monday. A year ago, that seven-day number was 238 cases. Bello said in 2020, we had 184 hospitalized and 33 in ICU. Monday we have 289 with 82 in ICU.

Mendoza has continued to push for an increase in vaccinations, as he said the rate of hospitalization for unvaccinated individuals is nearly 10 times that of vaccinated people. The leaders did acknowledge an increasing number of vaccinated people testing positive, but says by and large, their symptoms are much less severe. Bello says 8/10 patients in ICU are not vaccinated.

According to health officials, 81.6% (521,305 people) of eligible Monroe County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 481,758 residents, or 64.9% of the eligible population, are fully vaccinated as of Nov. 15, the last day an update was provided. (Editor’s note: Children ages 5 to 11 became eligible for the vaccine since the last update, which is why the percentage has gone down.)

Over in Erie County, the Western New York Region joined the Finger Lakes with a COVID right higher than 8%. Healthcare system leaders said they’re feeling the strain with the rising hospitalizations.

Watch the full press conference in the video in the player below (mobile users, click here):

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