Erie County Health chief on testing, schools and quarantine orders

Burstein: "If you're thinking of traveling out of state, change your plans"

    Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - "We all want to see kids back in school, if it's safe," said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein in a lengthy interview on WBEN Tuesday morning.

    "Pediatricians, teachers and parents all want to see students return to school, if possible. We know that students learn better if at school and there's a lot of social support that students receive when they're in school," said Burstein.

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    The Erie County Health Department is working with the State Health Department to help local schools with reopening. 

    With Covid data for the state remaining low, there are two new threats, non-compliance and travel. The Department of Health is requiring travelers from 22 states on the travel advisory to fill out a location form to help with the enforcement of a quarantine. This mandate will be enforced in every airport in New York State. Travelers who fail to provide the Department of Health with this information could face a $2,000 fine and receive a court order to isolate.

    Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin have been added to the list. Delaware was removed on Tuesday.

    "I'm personally asking people, if you're thinking about traveling to one of those states, change your plans. It's just not worth the hassle," said Burstein. "It's not worth the risk to your health and it's not worth the risk to the people around you.  The way to break the chain of community transmission is not to travel to states where we're seeing a lot of transmission."  Burstein added, "we've suffered so much and given up so much to get to where we are right now. We don't need people bringing in foreign cases from outside the state. We all have to do as much as we can," she said. 

    As of Sunday, there were 43 Covid patients hospitalized in Erie County. The daily positivity rate was 1.1%. Total case count since the outbreak began is now 7,677.

    "In the last couple of weeks, our hospital admissions have been hovering between 30 and 40. "We are trending higher than we have been," said Burstein. "We have to see if this is a persistent trend."

    Going deeper into the numbers, Burstein said she is seeing a higher proportion of people between the ages of 20 and 40. Sixteen percent of all Covid patients in Erie County hospitals are between 20 and 44. Burstein said that's a number she plans to watch closely.



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