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Ramping up testing & tracing for COVID-19

Governo Cuomo: "We've just never done this"
Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 18:32:58-04

BUFFLAO, NY (WBKW) — Governor Andrew Cuomo says more testing needs to be done across the state and he will be ramping it up.

7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley looks at how testing for COVID-19 is taking shape here at home.

“So testing will give you first of all, more data on how fast the infection is spreading And how fast it is spreading where,” Cuomo remarked.

Governor Cuomo is ramping up statewide testing for COVID-19 and Wednesday announced a new testing and tracing effort.

“You've never heard the words testing, tracing, isolate before — no one has — we've just never done this,” declared Cuomo.

The Governor says they must test thousands in order to figure out the infection rate across the state and see if it's on the rise.

We've already witnessed the state's pop up testing sites in Western New York like a Wegmans in Amherst and drive-up testing in a parking lot at a Cheektowaga Walmart.

The state has been conducting, on average, about 20,000 tests per day, but Cuomo says now they will double that to 40,000 a day with the help of the federal government. It could take several weeks to ramp it up.

“You’re going to get a very different number in New York City than you’ll get in Buffalo, then you get in the North Country then you’ll get in Albany,” said Governor Cuomo.

But health care providers have also been pitching in.

ECMC announced Wednesday it will launch a community-based, inner-city health care initiative with state funds. This will directly support Buffalo's vulnerable and at-risk residents.

ECMC Is expanding its testing capabilities alongside Kaleida Health. Testing will be given to the general public who receive a prescription from their doctor.

Kaleida has expanded testing four times at its labs, conducting over 400-tests a day.

Sources tell 7 Eyewitness News Kaleida Health is expected to open up a third testing site on Buffalo's east side.

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Rite Aid, Kenmore Avenue & Colvin, Buffalo.

Now Rite Aid Pharmacy is offering COVID-19 self-swab, drive through testing in eight states at 25-store locations. It includes New York State, however, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said hat type of testing can already be handled by the county and its partners.

“I don't really know if there's a need for these other testing sites that are doing the symptomatic testing because we have the capability of doing it through out public health lab, as well as our partners, Kaleida Health, ECMC, Catholic Health, as well as doctors offices,” Poloncarz stated.

We checked with the Rite Aid website and so far there are no Western New York rite aid that are offering the self-swab service.

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Rite Aid, Kenmore Avenue & Colvin.

New Rite Aid COVID-19 self-swab testing site locations opening Wednesday, April 22:

· Dover, DE: 200 Pharmacy Drive in Smyrna
· Boise, ID: 3250 S. Eagle Road in Meridian
· Grand Rapids, MI: 5995 Kalamazoo Avenue, SE in Kentwood
· Saginaw, MI: 4598 State Street in Saginaw
· Central, NJ: 31 Mule Road in Toms River
· Albany, NY: 1863 Central Avenue in Colonie
· Akron, OH: 4053 South Main Street in Akron
· Youngstown, OH: 713 North State Street in Girard
· Erie, PA: 5430 Peach Street in Erie
· Scranton, PA: 20 South River Street in Plains
· Virginia Beach, VA: 2293 Upton Drive in Virginia Beach

7 Eyewitness News reached out to Rite Aid's corporate communications for more information on potential expansion of this swab testing, but have not heard back from the company.

Erie County is waiting for more than 100,000 antibody test kits it ordered. These are different from the testing for those with COVID symptoms. The antibody testing is for those who already had the virus.

“But it has not arrived yet. If people are calling for an antibody test, it has not arrived, and if you are symptomatic — you don’t get the antibody test, you get the regular test,” remarked Poloncarz.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz takes questions at Wednesday's briefing.

The county executive also reminded residents, if you are tested after experiencing COVID symptoms, you should remain isolated until you receive the results and avoid exposing others in the community to the potential deadly virus.

“If you do get tested, with symptoms, you should stay in isolation,” Poloncarz noted. He said assume you have it until notified with results which could take a week to ten days.

For more help you can call the county’s COVID hotline at 716-858-2929.