Over the weekend, Erie County crossed into the CDC’s “high risk” category for community transmission of COVID-19. For context as to what this looks like on a numbers scale, there have been approximately 101 new cases per 100,000 Erie County residents over the past seven days.

Who is Getting Infected?

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz took to Twitter to break the news. He said that this transition to high risk comes “after a number of months of being in the ‘low risk,’ then ‘moderate risk’ and recently ‘substantial risk’ categories.”

Dr. Thomas Russo, local infectious disease expert, told WIVB News 4, “The reality of things are that we want to be done with this pandemic, but unfortunately this pandemic is not done with us and that’s primarily in the unvaccinated.” 

While the vaccine may soften the blow (or in this case, symptoms), it may not fully protect you from the Delta variant of the virus. Tanvir Shagar, a certified nurse practitioner and the medical director for Western New York Rapid Testing, told WUTV29 that approximately 80 percent of the new cases he’s seen are Delta variant cases, which has “a higher transmission rate than previous variants, according to Shagar. 

“What we do know is that people who have received the vaccination are still getting infected.” Shagar said, “At a slower rate than non-vaccinated people, but still infected, nonetheless.”

How to Protect Yourself

Shagar told WUTV29 that people should get the vaccine when they are able because “it equips the immune system to beat the virus much better than fighting it alone.”  

Dr. Thomas Russo, who spoke with WIVB News 4, detailed the percentage of people who are vaccinated vs. not vaccinated in Western New York. 

“There’s still a significant minority that’s not fully vaccinated,” Dr. Russo said. 

As of August 23, 62.4% of the Erie County population has at least one vaccine dose. 

Is the Delta Variant Prevalent in WNY?

Local health officials confirmed that the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Erie County are from the Delta variant. 

Where To Get The Vaccine

There are plenty of places in Western New York to get your vaccine, including Rite Aid Pharmacy and Walgreens Pharmacy. Appointments at those locations can be made online.

If you do not usually have internet access, you can also call the state’s hotline at 1-833-697-4829.

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