BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State said it has distributed 249,696 free rapid at-home COVID-19 test kits to Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie & Niagara Counties in the last week. A state representative told 7News 375,420 rapid tests went to students last week, and more than 123,000 for the general public. Each kit has two tests. Each county gets kits based on population.
The Erie County Health Deaprtment said Thursday plans to distribute them to the general public will be released "very soon."
Dr. Kevin Watkins, Cattaraugus County's Public Health Director said the county received 3000 tests kits about two weeks ago, and another 3,000 on Wednesday.
"First set of 3000 went so fast we have a population of about 76-77,000 residents, 3,000 kits don’t take long to distribute for one municipality," explained Watkins. This is why the county has been distributing the kits at the health department offices in Olean, Salamanca, and Machias.
Cattaraugus County residents can go to the health department offices in Olean, Salamanca, or Machias between to pickup a test kit.
Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said by the end of January the county will have distributed more than 10,000 test kits. Wendel said the state delivered 5,000 kits last week, and a little more than 5,000 kits Thursday.
Wendel said 100 kits, 200 tests, will go to all 27 towns, and 50 kits will go to each village in the county. The kits were delivered to town halls today, and county resident who needs one can contact their municipality.
This comes a week after the county said it received 35,000 tests for students.
Wendel said last week the tests went to BOCES to distribute to schools. He said the state said around 16,000 more tests will be coming again soon for schools to use, but Wendel wants to make sure teachers get this time too.
"We want to make sure we have for teachers, because without teachers you cant have school," emphasized Wendel.
On Saturday, January 8, Niagara Coutny will host test kit drive-thru distributions starting at 11 a.m. in three locations:
- Niagara Falls: Niagara County Human Resources Building, 300 10th St.
- North Tonawanda: Niagara County DMV, 500 Wheatfield St.
- Lockport: Transit Drive-In Theatre, 6655 S. Transit Rd.
Each site will have 2,000 test kits, with two tests in each box, to hand out.
"The supply is not going to meet the demand in any scenario," said Niagara County Legislature Chair Rebecca Wydysh. "We ask people to be understanding of that."
Each car will get one test kit.
Wydysh said the county got kits earlier this week from the state.
"And we were told to give them out and about to residents as soon as we possibly could, so we started to put plan together right away," said Wydysh.
"Every county can come up with a plan on their own on how to utilize county funds," explained Wydysh. "For us that was not something we were able to do just yet, so receiving this shipment from the state is very helpful so we can start to get these out to our residents."
The state said more tests will be distributed to schools and regions in the coming weeks as more test kit shipments arrive.