BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday a New York State Department of Health "SWAT" team will be heading to the Western New York region due to the increased rate of positive COVID-19 cases in the region.
The COVID-19 positivity rate in the region has been over 1% for nine straight days, fluctuating between 1% and 1.8% for the past week, with the state average staying below 1% throughout the same period.
The region's daily average number of new cases is now the highest since the middle of June at 70 cases per day. The state says the numbers are driven in part by clusters, which includes a food processing plant in Chautauqua County that has been tied to 53 cases to date, but officials say there is evidence of community spread.
This has caused officials to raise a "caution flag," Cuomo said Thursday the most recent rate of positivity in the region is up to 2%.
Due to the continued increased positive rate, the NYSDOH is sending a "SWAT" team to the region to open eight additional free rapid testing sites on August 29 in partnership with Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center and Catholic Health.
"Sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Saturday through Wednesday. All residents are eligible for tests and appointments can be made by calling 833-697-8764. New York State will deploy 50 rapid testing machines to support the effort and will deploy more as needed. All tests are free of charge and the results will support the contact tracing efforts being conducted to monitor and control the virus spread," a release from the governor's office states.
The following are the locations of the eight testing sites:
- Deleavan-Grider Community Center 877 E. Delavan Ave. Buffalo, NY 14215
- Northwest Buffalo Community Center 155 Lawn Ave. Buffalo, NY 14207
- Niagara Falls
- John A. Duke Senior Center 1201 Hyde Park Blvd. Niagara Falls, NY 14301
- YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 32 Cottage St. Lockport, NY 14094
- SUNY ECC North 6205 Main St. Williamsville, NY 14221
- West Seneca
- Union Fire Department 1845 Union Road West Seneca, NY 14224
- Dunkirk Fire Murphy Training Grounds 665 Brigham Road Dunkirk, NY 14048
The eight additional testing sites will use the Abbott testing machines which the governor says provides same-day results.
"In Western New York, we have a caution flag out and we're going to fly it a little higher today. The region's infection rate was 2 percent yesterday, which is not good news," said Cuomo. "We're going to deploy a SWAT team from the Department of Health that is going to conduct additional testing at eight sites in the region using Abbott testing machines, which provide same-day results literally within the hour. We're focusing on Western New York and we're going to continue to focus on it. Thank you to our partners Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center and Catholic Health for their assistance with this effort."