As part of her weekday afternoon community update on LCTV, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh offered the following updates:
“You can see that our level of testing in Niagara County has certainly begun to increase. That is something we've been hoping to see all along – and we've seen a big increase in just this past week in the level of testing that's happening here in Niagara County. That data will give us, of course, a much better idea of where we are locally on our own curve – which we've said all along is probably slightly behind the curve downstate in the New York City area.
“We can't make good decisions without good data, so this is very good to hear that we are seeing more testing being done here in Niagara to give us a true sense of where we are.”
Drive-Thru Test Site at Niagara County Community College
“The State Department of Health has opened a drive-thru testing site at the NCCC campus. Again, that site is being run by the state Department of Health, not by our local department. We're told that testing will start there tomorrow. They've been setting up for the last few days.
“We don't know how long that testing site will be on location. We know that in other areas of the state they've been there for several days in a row. Some as long as two to three weeks, but again we do not know what the anticipated timeframe is here; we have not been told that yet.
“Please know that you cannot just show up at the testing site; you must preregister to be tested at that testing site. And you can do that by calling 1-888-364-3065. Again, that number is for the state Department of Health – it is an intake line, which means, when you call, you'll be giving your information to the person on the line. And then the state Department of Health will call you back when they're able to conduct your screening and get you scheduled.”
Antibody Testing at Wegmans
“The state Department of Health ran one of their antibody testing clinics that was out at Wegmans on Military Road in Niagara Falls. Now, again, the antibody testing is very different. This site out of NCCC is actually doing diagnostic testing to let individuals know if they are currently infected with COVID-19. The antibody testing will show you if you've had previous contact with the virus – and that could be any time in the past really not sure how far back that could have gone. But again, that will show you if you have the antibodies in your system, meaning you had prior contact and potentially could be a donor to individuals who are currently infected and needing treatment; that's an option that that is being used, as well.
“Niagara Falls has consistently been the area with our highest number of positive cases. So, certainly good that that antibody testing is being done in that area. It will be interesting to see how those numbers come back.
“Now again, those antibody testing sites are not something that we can let you know about ahead of time. We actually don't know ourselves. They’re pop-up testings purposely, because they don't have enough tests, of course, to test everyone who would want to be, and they're only there for a few hours. It is limited and they do those kind of as a surprise pop-up so that they don't have large numbers of people showing up ahead of time.
“Bottom line is that, after all of the frustration we've seen in testing supplies here in Niagara County, we are now making progress. So, of course, we thank the state Department of Health for coming in to run those different testing sites.”
“Testing being done is a key component in the un-‘PAUSING’ of New York, according to the governor. So, this is certainly a step in the right direction. We, again, need that good data to be able to make good, safe decisions for our businesses as we look at reopening in the area.
“Gov. Cuomo on his briefing today again told us that hospitalizations and intubation rates continue on their downward trend, which they have been for several days now. This is great news. Today, there were 900 new hospitalizations reported, which again is down from what they have been in the prior weeks.
“The reality check, of course, is that there were still 335 COVID-19-related deaths in New York state announced today. So, that number is down – that, again, is good news – but the reality check (is) that we're far from over in this situation; and that is still a very big number of individuals to lose in one day.
“So, we're all thinking about reopening and what it will take to make that happen, of course; and we don't know an exact timeframe. The governor talks, again, about his regional approach to reopening, and the data that's needed to decide when an area will be able to open safely.
“Businesses, of course, will need to show that they're able to follow social distancing and other safety protocols before being allowed to reopen.
“The businesses out there, I know many of you are already thinking about this plan and how you might implement that when you're allowed to reopen – and Niagara County can certainly help in at least one area right off the bat. We will be reaching out in the coming days and weeks as those regional plans are put into place. We will certainly be working with all of our business community at the local level to help you through that process.”
Cloth Masks for All Niagara County Businesses
“One thing that we can offer right now is the cloth masks. Last week, we offered those free cloth masks through Niagara County Department of Emergency Management to businesses who needed to give them to their essential workers. We would now like to open that up to all of our area businesses. We gave out over 15,000 masks in the last week through that program. And we now want to offer this to businesses who are starting about their reopening process, and will need them for all of their employees most likely when that occurs.
“We encourage businesses to take part in this opportunity, because we know that you can't order masks today necessarily and have them tomorrow. So, we're asking that you start again thinking ahead about those reopening plans and utilize this offer that we have for you.
“You can either email [email protected], or call 716-438-3171, to get those masks.
“Again, we are now opening this up to all businesses who are starting to put in place their reopening plans and we'll need those masks in the future.”