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More COVID testing becoming available in Niagara County

Niagara County

After announcing the latest reported COVID-19 statistics as gathered by county health officials, Niagara County Legislature Chair Becky Wydysh also noted that additional test sites are opening in the City of Niagara Falls, where a majority of coronavirus cases have been positively identified.

Among the new information shared by Wydysh Thursday afternoon was the confirmation of four more fatalities: a 51-year-old male and three females, ages 61, 64 and 95. All, according to health department officials, had underlying health conditions. Since the start of the outbreak, 42 Niagara County residents have died as a result of the illness.

Twenty-one new positive test results were also reported by Wydysh, raising the county's overall cases, including isolations, deaths and recoveries, to 640. Of the 287 cases that are still active, 21 patients were in area hospitals while the remainder were isolated at home.

Wydysh also acknowledged a coronavirus hotspot at a Newfane nursing home. While she credited its staff with "doing an admirable job under a very difficult and overwhelming situation," she said they need help, while local leaders are urging the state to get more involved.

"Legislator John Syracuse, the Vice Chairman of the Legislature, and Supervisor Tim Horanburg of Newfane have been calling on the state to step in now and take over, and take a look at what's going on there," she said. "Again, the State Department of Health has the authority in nursing homes, not the local Department of Health. So, we're calling on the state to get in there and take a look at what's happening in that nursing home, and it's our understanding that state officials will be visiting within a few days early next week. That is something that needs to happen and happen quickly."

In the meantime, more testing sites are becoming available, including one to be held Saturday, May 9 in the parking lot of the Community Health Center of Niagara, located at 2715 Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls. Beginning next week, the Rite Aid location at 1030 Pine Avenue, near 10th Street in Niagara Falls, will host drive-through testing. And, Wydysh reminded her audience, the state continues to run a testing site at Niagara County Community College.

Reservations for Rite Aid, Wydysh said, can be made beginning Sunday. The location's phone nunber is (716) 285-0514.

To set an appointment for a test through the Community Health Center of Niagara, call (716) 986-9199, extension 5907.

For an appointment with the state testing site at NCCC, call (888) 364-3065.

Shortly after Wydysh's daily update concluded, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center announced it, too, would begin offering community COVID-19 testing, beginning Monday, May 11, from 8 a.m. until noon at its downtown hospital and from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at its satellite locations. For an appointment, call (716) 278-4496.

Health officials in the county reported they've conducted 4,105 tests as of Thursday afternoon.

"This is going to be very important as we move towards the unpausing of New York and reopening our businesses," Wydysh said. "The governor has said, time and again, there's criteria that we'll need to meet and one of them is testing and knowing what our true numbers are here, and how many people are in are infected currently, how many might have had it in the past, and really knowing that number to be able to stop the spread and keep us where we are without further peak."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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