Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs will be placed in an “orange” micro-cluster zone, effective Friday.
The state imposed these new restrictions after Erie County recorded all-time highs in daily COVID cases. This is a more restrictive shutdown than the “yellow” micro-cluster zone the Buffalo area was placed under on Nov. 9.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted that non-essential gatherings will be limited to 10 people, houses of worship will be capped at the lesser of 33% capacity or 25 people and indoor dining will no longer be permitted. Outdoor dining will be allowed, at a maximum of four people per table.
Certain businesses, like gyms, fitness centers and classes, barber shops, hair salons and personal care services, will be closed.
All district students in Erie County, grades pre-K to 12, will participate in 100% remote learning from Monday, Nov. 16 through Friday, Nov. 20.
UB will retain in-person instruction through Tuesday, as planned. The university will then transition to remote learning following Thanksgiving break, UB President Satish Tripathi said in a Tuesday email.
“This is NOT about politics, it is about saving lives,” Poloncarz tweeted. “None of us are happy about this, none of us want to be in this situation. PLEASE wear your mask.”
Poloncarz noted there are 150 hospitalized COVID patients in Erie County, 32 of which are in the ICU. Nearly half of all hospitalized people in the county are under the age of 65, with 11% of them aged 20-44.
The “orange” micro-cluster zone is the second-most restrictive of the three the state has at its disposal, Poloncarz said. If Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs were to be placed under an even more restrictive shutdown — like a “red micro-cluster zone” — non-residential and residential gatherings would be prohibited, dining would go to takeout or delivery only and houses of worship would be limited to the lesser of 25% capacity or 10 people.
UB has 123 confirmed active on-campus cases of COVID among students and faculty, according to its COVID dashboard.
Among those affected are 58 students living on-campus, 56 living off-campus but taking classes on-campus and nine university employees working on-campus. An additional 66 students living off-campus but taking classes remotely and four employees working remotely have tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days.
Justin Weiss is the senior features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.