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Erie County Department of Health announces change in COVID-19 diagnostic test criteria


Tue, Nov 10th 2020 04:15 pm

Public health resources will focus on testing close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases & symptomatic Erie County residents

The Erie County Department of Health is announcing a change to its COVID-19 diagnostic testing criteria. The change will start with appointments scheduled on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Through its COVID-19 information line, ECDOH will offer tests to Erie County residents who are under quarantine as close contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or who are symptomatic Erie County residents.

All diagnostic COVID tests through ECDOH are provided at no cost and no doctor referral is needed.

“We expected that we would need to shift our testing resources when our county experienced an increase in cases, and that is happening right now,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Our daily positivity rates and volume of daily cases are increasing. This change in testing criteria is part of our aggressive approaches to reversing these troubling trends.”

ECDOH received about 33,000 diagnostic lab reports for the week of Nov. 1-7 – about 1,300 of those were conducted by ECDOH.

“Our health care partners and New York state have expanded their capacity to do diagnostic testing in our community,” Burstein said. “The demand for diagnostic testing will increase these next weeks and months, and from a public health perspective we are going to direct our resources to breaking the chains of transmission at their sources, with people who have known exposure to the disease and those who are presenting with COVID-like symptoms.”

All appointments through ECDOH must be scheduled. Call 716-858-2929 for an appointment.

ECDOH said, “If you feel you have had an exposure to someone with COVID-19, have a travel history in a high-risk state, reside outside Erie County or want to know your status, there are a number of private sites and a site run by the New York State Department of Health for diagnostic testing. Visit www.erie.gov/covidtestsites.”

The department had been providing Abbott Labs’ ID NOW point-of-care tests to symptomatic p-12 students and symptomatic school staff who learn and work in school settings.

“Schools in NYS-designated ‘yellow zones’ that plan to continue in-person learning will be developing their own testing systems for their school communities,” Burstein said. “Given the high community COVID-19 prevalence, ECDOH needs to make COVID-19 testing available for all symptomatic and close-contact Erie County residents to break the chain of transmission and bring our case numbers down.”

The Erie County COVID-19 information line will be closed on Nov. 11 for the Veterans’ Day holiday. When scheduling resumes on Thursday, callers will be screened and appointments will be made based on the new criteria. Plans are moving forward to expand information line hours and line capacity, and new hours will be announced when finalized. The information line received more than 1,200 calls on Monday.

Close Contacts of Positive COVID-19 Cases (Under Quarantine)

When an ECDOH contact tracer calls someone to place them under quarantine, that person will be advised of their last date of exposure and given a recommended date to schedule a diagnostic test. A negative diagnostic test does not mean one’s quarantine period can be ended or shortened. Residents can call 716-858-2929 to request a diagnostic test.

For those with COVID-19-like symptoms, ECDOH said, “We urge Erie County residents who are ill to stay home from school, work and other activities. Please consult a doctor for advice in managing your symptoms. Call 716-858-2929 to request a diagnostic test.”

Information about isolation and quarantine is available on the ECDOH COVID-19 website at https://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=ecdoh-covid-19-isolation-and-quarantine-documents.

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