BUFFALO, N.Y. — During a briefing Wednesday on COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo implied that anyone can walk into a hospital in New York State and get tested for coronavirus.
"People ask how does this testing work? Any hospital in the state can perform testing," Cuomo said. "You can walk into a hospital in Buffalo, New York, if you show the symptoms and meet the protocols, you can be tested."
2 On Your Side spoke to officials from Erie County Medical Center, Kaleida Health and Catholic Health. They confirmed that what the governor seemed to imply is not true.
ECMC and Kaleida Health both mentioned it in news releases with COVID-19 updates.
"We continue to urge anyone with COVID-19 symptoms – fever, cough, sneezing – to go home and consult with their primary physician. ECMC has only conducted tests on admitted patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or ECMC caregivers who may be symptomatic," wrote Peter Cutler, ECMC's Vice President of Communications and External Affairs.
"There is no public testing at our hospitals," added Kaleida Health's Chief of Staff, Michael P. Hughes.
Cutler said they are not encouraging anyone to come into the emergency room if they are having symptoms unless they are severe like shortness of breath.
Hughes said that you must call your primary care physician first, which is what the Erie County Department of Health has been advising.
"You would first be directed to your primary care physician, who would then work through a protocol to determine whether or not you needed to be seen by someone in the emergency room," he said.
Hughes told 2 On Your Side that testing priority for Kaleida Health hospitals goes to health care workers and patients deemed critical, not the general public.
"People need to understand that the only testing we are doing right now is focused on healthcare providers," he said. "We need to keep our staff healthy in order to take care of patients."
We reached out to the Governor's Office for clarification on that statement.
The Governor's Ofice said people should still reach out to their primary care doctor first and said you can't walk into a hospital and get immediately tested.