COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise; Niagara Falls Leads the Way; Health Director Sounds Alarm on Testing

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By: Staff Reports

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Niagara County continue to rise steadily and as of Tuesday, April 14th, 2020, the total number of confirmed cases has reached 216. However, this is in no way an accurate number as Niagara County lacks behind in testing by a wide margin.

The current numbers released by the Niagara County Health Department on Tuesday, April 14th, 2020, are as follows:

  • 11 new positive cases
  • Total of 216 to date
  • 122 in isolation
  • 100 isolating at home
  • 22 in hospital isolation
  • 89 recovered
  • 5 deaths
  • 925 people tested

One major issue still persists when looking at the numbers: testing.

Although severely symptomatic individuals in Niagara County have a better chance of being tested, any  individual who want to get a test cannot get one. This was reiterated by Niagara County Health Director Daniel Stapleton who believes Niagara County is two to three weeks behind downstate.

“I think we’re basically about two to three weeks behind downstate,” said Stapleton. “When the governor says the numbers for them are plateauing, that’s not true here. The numbers continue to increase. And we believe that our surge is on right now. Our numbers are increasing dramatically. But we also feel we’re not at the peak yet.”

 

Confirmed cases as of April 14th, 2020.

 

Stapleton said on Monday, April 13th, 2020, that he hopes hospitals are not overwhelmed when Niagara County eventually reaches its peak.

“We hope that we reach the peak at a point where the hospitals are not overwhelmed in Niagara County,” said Stapleton. “We don’t want the surge of patients – the apex, if you will – to negatively impact the hospitals in terms of their functioning of their hospital.”

Stapleton did not hesitate to stress the importance of continuing mitigation measures such as social distancing to prevent the spread.

“The key is,” said Stapleton, ” that people need to make sure they’re following the social distancing guidelines. They need to stay home; they need to only go out for the most essential things they have – and that’s food. They shouldn’t be going out for any other reason. They need to make sure that they’re staying home, self-isolating. My concern is that, if people don’t continue to stay home, they don’t self-isolate, they don’t wash their hands, because they think it’s over,  that the virus is going to continue to increase in this area, and will overwhelm the hospital, the local health department, the health care system. People need to follow through with this. If we let our guard down now, the virus can come on even stronger in a second wave. And we want to make sure that the people who are not weakened from the first wave aren’t put in dire straits if a second wave comes.”

Lastly, Stapleton was critical of the embarrassingly low number of tests that have been performed for Niagara County residents.

“When you look at the information we have,” said Stapleton, “925 tests have been performed in Niagara County. We need to get much, much higher – two or three times that – before we can adequately say, ‘yes, the worst is over.’”

 

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