Recent increase in COVID cases linked to college students

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – An alarming of recent positive coronavirus cases in Erie County is attributed to college students in the area.

Last week there were 496 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county. 323 of those new cases are people under the age of 30. People between the ages of 18 and 22 accounted for 207 of those cases.

Of the total number of cases last week, Buffalo’s 14214 area code had the largest number of cases. This zip code includes University Heights, the neighborhood near the University at Buffalo’s South Campus. It also includes the Parkside neighborhood and campus housing for students at Canisius College.

“42 percent of all cases last week were from college-aged persons, 18 to 22,” Poloncarz said. “The diagnostic test results for this age group for last week was 6.9 percent. The test for all other categories, including that age group, was around 2…As a UB grad, this distresses me.”

The University at Buffalo reported 122 current cases of coronavirus, 113 are students who live off campus.

“This is really concerning,” Poloncarz said. “A lot of them don’t seem to care. Unless they get sick. A lot of them who got tested were sick. They got tested because they were sick.”

By comparison, the 14211 zip code, Buffalo’s East Side, had 25 cases.  

Poloncarz is urging anyone who attended a house party in those areas in the last two weeks to get a diagnostic test. He also said students should be concerned that they could be suspended or expelled from school if they don’t cooperate with efforts by contact tracers to reach them.

Law enforcement did sweep those neighborhoods but did not find as many mass gatherings as they did in prior weeks, according to the county executive.