The new year is a wonderful time to reflect on the last, but also to set goals and ideals for the future. While we may have ended 2021 with renewed optimism, I understand that for many, there is still a sense of uncertainty, as COVID-19 cases and new variants have continued to affect our community. I know that many have questions and I hope that the Erie County Department of Health and the Legislature can be a resource for all.
Due to the rising case numbers, the County has increased testing capacity, adding weeknight and weekend hours at several locations. Three additional testing sites have been opened in the City of Buffalo at the Northwest Community Center on Lawn Avenue, Buffalo State College, and the University at Buffalo. Appointments are still required, and can be made through the County’s website, or through the information line at (716) 858-2929. Hours for the hotline have also been extended on weekdays through 7 p.m.
As we come up on the one-year anniversary of vaccine distribution, many more will become eligible for a booster shot. Please be sure to check the date of your second dose, and to schedule a third once eligible. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is so important for all to receive this extra protection. I want to thank our Health Department for providing so many great resources and I highly encourage everyone who is able to visit their homepage, where you are able to find the latest information, as well as maps to locate both vaccination and testing locations.
This month, the County has also been afforded the great resources of KN95 masks, as well as at home rapid tests that have been distributed to our municipalities. We hope that by getting these out and into the community, it can help to curb these rising numbers. With the accessibility of home tests, I want to remind everyone to please report any positive results to the County Health Department. Contact tracing is such a crucial factor in helping us to combat the spread of this illness.
On a final note, I would also like to remind everyone to continue effective mask wearing in our businesses and other indoor public spaces. I thank everyone for complying and acting with compassion, realizing that we are all in this together and working towards the same goal.
While I feel the weight that this pandemic has had on our community, I am encouraged by the positive attitude of all my constituents and motivated by how far we have come in the last two years. The burden has been difficult, but we have also seen great acts of resilience and generosity, through the holiday season especially. Thank you to all of our health care workers, volunteers, and the entire community as a whole for stepping up when others have needed it.
I would like to wish everyone and their families a safe and healthy New Year. As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions at (716) 832-0493.