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More COVID-19 variants found in Erie County, UB research shows

'We believe these variants are contributing to our increasing daily new case totals and the resulting rise in hospitalizations,' Dr. Gale Burstein said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — More COVID-19 variants have been found in Erie County, the county's health department announced Thursday,

Last week the health department said "California" variants had been detected in some Erie County residents. More variants have been found since, according to discoveries at the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.  

"These new data appear to confirm what we have suspected, that COVID-19 variants of concern with higher transmission rates are circulating in Erie County," county health commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said Thursday in a statement. "We believe these variants are contributing to our increasing daily new case totals and the resulting rise in hospitalizations.

"Consequently, this is not the time to let down our guard against COVID-19. Mask up. Limit gathering sizes. Postpone travel. Stay home if you feel ill. And most importantly, get a diagnostic test if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or feel you have had an exposure."

The health department says the California variant shows a 20 percent increase in transmission, and that the United Kingdom variant shows a 50 percent increase in transmission.

According to UB's data, 42 samples out of 138 collected from Erie County residents in February and March included variants.