BUFFALO, N.Y. — COVID-19 infection rates and increased community spread across Western New York once again caught the attention of the state Friday.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul joined doctors from the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo Friday to give an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region.

What You Need To Know

  • Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Western New York to give a pandemic update

  • She pointed to increased spread in healthcare facilities, the latest being Houghton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center

  • Hochul also warned of spikes in cases stemming from Southern Tier counties bordering nearby Pennsylvania

"Point the spotlight on Western New York over the last few weeks as sometimes being the highest infection rate in the state," said Lt. Governor Hochul (D).

That, as new COVID-19 cases popped up at Fletcher Elementary School in Jamestown and at the Allegany County building in Belmont.

Add that to 30 new cases at Houghton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Allegany County Thursday that resulted in two deaths, as well as dozens of cases at Tanglewood Manor in Jamestown.

"It's unfortunate. But nothing major that we can't control, with the testing," said Hochul.

In a statement, leaders with the Houghton facility say they are communicating closely with local and state health leaders, following CDC guidelines, and continuing to restrict visitors, as well as canceling all group activities and communal dining.

"Despite the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that our health care personnel have endured, it is the passion of saving a life, the commitment to a calling larger than humankind can imagine, that keeps the employees of Houghton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center working so hard to support our residents and each other," said a Houghton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center spokesperson.

Hochul says the state is also providing another 400,000 rapid testing kits to every county in the state to help contain the spread.

"Our solution to this crisis is really driven around the fact that we have now the capability more than any state in the nation, to do constant testing, upwards of 100,000 tests a day," said Hochul.

Hochul also noted the increased infection rate in the Southern Tier could be linked to those counties that neighbor Pennsylvania, as residents continue to cross the border.

"Shopping, dining, working. Pennsylvania's rates are continuing to rise just like the rest of the nation. A majority of states in this country are seeing an increase in infection rates," said Hochul.

Hochul continues to urge everyone to wear a mask to help prevent the transmission.

"Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It does not define you as a person. It simply says 'I want this economy to come back. I want everything that is closed to reopen. I want to get back to the Bills game. I want to get back to the places I want to go.' And if we all wear a mask, and if everyone in society wears a mask, which should have been a mandate by the federal government as early as March or April at the latest, we could be one of the countries now seeing a recovery instead of entering a second wave," said Hochul.

Dr. Thomas Russo, an expert in infectious diseases, explained by wearing a mask there is much less chance for airborne germs to enter into the airway.

Dr. Russo also said as we patiently wait for a vaccine, wearing a mask is the next best thing and is a great way to prevent the spread of both coronavirus and the flu.