Erie Mayor Joe Schamber tests positive for COVID-19, working from home
The summer surge of COVID-19 in Erie County may be easing, but the highly contagious virus is still infecting many people.
Ask Erie Mayor Joe Schamber.
Schamber, 71, tested positive Tuesday evening for COVID-19. He said he had a sore throat and clogged ears, but felt well enough to work from home.
“I’m isolating myself upstairs,” Schamber said Wednesday morning. “I also have to protect my family.”
This is the first time Schamber has tested positive for COVID-19. He said his health deteriorated throughout the day on Tuesday to the point that he took a home COVID-19 test in the evening.
“Yes, it was positive,” Schamber said. “I called my doctor and he prescribed me (the antiviral drug) paxlovid.”
Schamber, who said he is fully vaccinated and boosted, is considered to be at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 due to his age. He was also treated for prostate cancer in 2020.
He will self-isolate at home for five days, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and will not visit City Hall or attend public events until he tests negative.
His staff are notifying people he came into close contact with on Monday and Tuesday, Schamber said. Meetings scheduled for the rest of the week will be posted online.
Erie County will likely see a drop in new COVID-19 cases
The county’s daily number of new cases and the amount of coronavirus found in samples from the Erie sewage treatment plant have both declined in recent days, county health officials said. With no new sub-variant poised to surpass omicron’s BA.5 in the near future, these numbers could drop further in the coming weeks.
“(A) at least for the next 2 months. I don’t think you can predict beyond that,” said Dr. Howard Nadworny, an infectious disease specialist at Saint Vincent’s Hospital and adviser to the department of Erie County Health, in an email. “The other question will be whether Covid cases will decline more slowly once schools return (without masking), prolonging this particular wave.”
The number of COVID-19 cases in the county remained stubbornly constant over the summer as the BA.5 subvariant spread. The seven-day rolling average of daily cases has remained between 30 and 67 county residents since early June, although it fell from an average of 62.4 cases per day from August 16 to 22 to 61 cases from August 23 to August 29.
Much more people were likely infected during that time, Nadworny said, but home testing and milder symptoms led to a lower percentage of reported cases.
The amount of virus found in samples taken from the sewage treatment plant has decreased by around 40% over the past two weeks, Nadworny reported. Sewage samples are being used across the country to assess the amount of COVID-19 in a community.
Daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained even more consistent than cases, as the 14-day rolling average has remained between 17 and 33 county residents since mid-March.
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Erie County moves to medium COVID-19 community level despite declining cases
But the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations increased enough in the past week to move the county to a community-level COVID-19 average, as determined by the CDC. COVID-19 hospitalization trends often lag new case trends by about two weeks.
The main difference from a low community level is that people at high risk for severe illness should ask their health care provider if they should wear a mask and take other precautions, according to the CDC.
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“We have seen a slight increase in recent days, but the majority of them remain hospitalized patients for other reasons and then tested positive for COVID,” said Dr. Christopher Clark, president of Saint Vincent. “We’re only seeing a few cases where COVID is contributing to their hospitalization. It’s very different from the delta surge.”
Although the number of new cases in the county has declined, people should be aware that the coronavirus is still circulating in the community, said Charlotte Berringer, RN, director of community health services for the county health department.
“Yes, it looks like we’ve probably peaked, but without a good number of difficult cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in cases with schools opening and people going back to school. interior,” Berringer said.
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