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Erie County updates testing protocol to prioritize those connected to health care settings

Symptomatic health-care workers, first responders, medical facility staff, and their families no longer need testing requests to come from their doctor.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Erie County announced Friday that changes would be made to its testing protocol for COVID-19. 

The epidemiology office will now prioritize COVID-19 testing for: 

  • Symptomatic hospital and community healthcare workers (HCWs);
  • Symptomatic EMT, Fire, Police, and DOCCs personnel;
  • Symptomatic household and significant other contacts of hospital and community HCWs;
  • Symptomatic hospital and community medical facility staff; and
  • Symptomatic patients receiving dialysis or infusion therapy

On Saturday, 2 On Your Side spoke with Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein about the changes.

"We are also testing the household contacts and significant others that are symptomatic living with our healthcare workers," Burstein said. "Again, if those household members are sick with COVID-19, then the health care workers will get sick, and again, we want to keep our health care workers in the workforce."

People who fall into these categories do not need a testing request sent by their heath care provider. They can call (716) 858-2929, and choose option 2 to initiate the testing process. 

Erie County will be scheduling sample collection for individuals suspected to have COVID-19 at sites within Erie County for next week.

Dr. Burstein said the Erie County Public Health Lab is processing on average 80 to 100 tests a day.

If you fall into these categories and are scheduled for testing, you will be given isolation information when your sample is taken, and you will receive your results by phone.

The county continues to urge anyone with a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19 to contact their healthcare provider or physician for medical advice and instructions on how to manage their symptoms. 

Kaleida Health is also expanding its testing capability to include other healthcare workers and first responders.  

They say this testing includes testing Catholic Health and Veteran’s Hospital employees plus Buffalo Fire Department and Buffalo Police Department personnel as well paramedics/EMTs from AMR Ambulance, Twin City and volunteer fire/EMS companies. Those who are symptomatic or who believe they need to be tested should also call the Erie County Coronavirus Hotline, (716) 858-2929.

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