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How did Monroe County get expanded coronavirus testing before Erie County?

County Executive Mark Poloncarz says Rochester hospitals were approved before Buffalo hospitals.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Monroe County got a head start on expanded COVID-19 testing, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

For weeks now, county officials have downplayed that Monroe County with a smaller population (747,642) has about twice as much coronavirus testing as Erie County (population 952,528).

On Friday, when asked again about testing disparity, Poloncarz noted, "They do have two other labs that are currently working in Monroe County, the University of Rochester (Hospital) and … is it Strong Memorial. Both of those were actually active and approved to do testing before Kaleida and ECMC and the Catholic (Health) and Roswell Park were."

Poloncarz pointed out one of the earliest coronavirus cases in Upstate was a lunch lady in the Rochester area.

Whether that prompted the State Health Department to prioritize expanded testing in Rochester first is not confirmed.

The Erie County Executive added that he has had multiple phone conversations with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul about the need for expanded testing here.

The county public health lab can process, at most, about 100 tests a day.

Poloncarz says it appears added machinery and supplies are on the way, possibly next week.

"I assure you we are trying to get all the tests we can here in New York State but also focusing on Upstate,” Hochul said during an appearance on Thursday in Buffalo.

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