BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's not just tests that are in short supply, but also important hospital equipment needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Erie County Executive Mark Polancarz said Thursday that when it comes to testing for coronavirus, it's not the number of people, but the number of tests that's the problem.
As more cases become known, there isn't enough supplies to go around, and he's done all he can to get more.
The testing process has multiple parts and Dr. Thomas Russo with the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo said that any missing component will make the process useless.
"It's a little more complicated tan some of the basic tests that we do," Russo told 2 On Your Side.
In short, here's what happens.
First there's the sample from a person who believes they're infected. A special swab has to be used so the sample won't be compromised.
Then it's extracted and a primer helps convert it into a form that can be tested.
Then special chemicals or reagents are used to determine if the infection, in this case coronavirus, is there.
"The D-N-A that we use for implication which we call primers are very specific for the new coronavirus so they're likely some of the key limiting reagents for this test. "
If any one of these elements like says a swab or chemical is missing, then the tests can't be done.
Polancarz said earlier these reagents are the very things that's missing, and until the county can get more, determining any additional cases and monitoring how far the virus has spread will be extremely difficult.
"Until such time, as we acquire more swabs and reagents, especially reagents, there's not a lot we can do with regards to testing," he said.
So what does this mean for you?
Dr. Russo says monitoring your symptoms closely is key and make sure your're in touch with your doctor so you can get help if anything changes.