At a special briefing for BNP members this morning, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz provided updates on the county’s COVID-19 status and indicated mask mandates could eventually return.
COVID-19 case numbers have increased in recent weeks, although hospital and ICU admissions have not increased at the same rate.
This week, the CDC released new masking guidance based upon per capita case rates. “Moderate” transmission means between 10-49 cases/100,000 residents; “substantial” transmission means 50-99 cases/100,000 residents.
As of this morning, Erie County is currently at 48 cases/100,000 residents, putting the county on the cusp of the “substantial” range. Poloncarz noted that in the past three weeks, 25-30% of the county’s COVID-19 cases were in vaccinated individuals.
The CDC’s new guidance recommends reimposing indoor mask mandates for all individuals in regions with substantial or high transmission. Poloncarz said he expects Erie County’s case rate to enter the substantial level later today or tomorrow.
Currently, Poloncarz is NOT imposing a mask mandate. However, he will require masks in all Erie County-owned buildings once the county reaches the “substantial” level, and he indicated a mask mandate for other public spaces was not off the table if the county continued to see a spike in transmission.
Poloncarz noted that private employers have the right to enforce social distancing and masking within their establishment if they choose.
When asked how the Delta variant could impact schooling this fall, Poloncarz said, “I fully expect all schools to be open, but require masks for everyone.” This would include all students, faculty, and staff –regardless of vaccination status – in classrooms, buses, and playgrounds.
Poloncarz urged residents to get vaccinated, noting that 96% of COVID-19 deaths in Erie County between April-July were among unvaccinated individuals.
For information on county mandates, testing, and vaccinations, contact the Erie County Department of Health.
The BNP will continue to keep you informed on any changes to state or county COVID-19 policy.