Over the last 24 hours, the highest total of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began in Erie County was reported, 878, leading County Executive Mark Poloncarz to say that “the delta variant is running like wildfire” at a news conference Wednesday.

Over the last seven days, a total of 4,693 cases have been reported in Erie County.

“This is another example of the rapid increase in cases we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” Poloncarz said. “It’s pretty much bad news all around. There’s no part of Erie County that hasn’t been touched by the delta variant of COVID. We are seeing some terrible numbers.” 

To combat this recent surge of COVID-19, Erie County implemented a mask mandate, which went into effect Tuesday. This is the first phase of a plan to combat the virus in the county. Phase two would be a vaccine mandate for indoor dining, bars and entertainment venues. Phase three includes capacity restrictions for all public locations, and phase four would be a total shutdown of the county.

The county will reassess need for additional COVID-19 measures on December 13, unless it is necessary beforehand.

“If we follow the mask mandate, we won’t get to the vaccine mandate,” Poloncarz said. "It really is in the public's hands."

Poloncarz once again urged the public to get vaccinated.

“We didn’t think we’d see so many new cases of COVID-19 if we didn’t have so many unvaccinated people in our community,” Poloncarz said. “Please be safe, and get vaccinated. It’s not a good time out there in terms of COVID-19.”