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Requests for antibody tests jams up Erie County's COVID-19 hotline

The Erie County Department of Health officially started its antibody testing program on Tuesday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As the Erie County Department of Health moves forward with the additional antibody testing, they didn't realize how many people were interested in getting one of those tests. 2 On Your Side asked the health department about the jammed phone lines and general availability of those antibody tests.

The Erie County Department of Health officially started its antibody testing program on Tuesday. It is distinct from the antigen diagnostic test we heard about originally. This is actually a blood draw because it will look to see if your immune system in your body was exposed to COVID-19. 

The problem is that the county got overwhelmed Monday with calls that came in to the health department. 2 On Your Side spoke to Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein about that on Tuesday.

"The call volume has settled down and now it's slow and steady," she says. "People may have to wait a few minutes - I think the call volume has settled down and we are able to take appointments for antibody testing. We're offering appointments for clinics  Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 till 6. And those clinics are quickly filling up. It's a first come first serve basis. When those fill up we have others scheduled in June and we'll open those up when we get closer to those dates."

Burstein says the county has 100,000 of these antibody tests available. They will be scheduling for the appointments through the following weeks so you'll have plenty of time to sign up if you do want an antibody test.

Burstein added, "The antibody test is looking for antibodies to the that COVID-19 virus. So what that means is your body sometime in the past has been exposed and it probably was infected and then mounted an antibody response that the test is detecting. And so that means with the antibody tests that we're offering, it means that sometime in the past you were infected. it does not mean that you have a current infection."

For more information you can contact the Erie County Department of Health.

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