Niagara Falls Seeking Answers to Pulled Testing Resources for COVID-19

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Niagara Falls City Hall

 

By: Staff Reporter

With the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing in the Western New York area, there has been a decrease in testing availability as well as a longer turnaround times for test results, with available test supplies being redirected to areas considered to be hotspots. Although the decrease in cases is a positive turn, the effort to contain the spread of the virus is being inhibited by a slowdown in receiving test results. In order to keep infection rates low and contact trace potential patients, it is critical that Niagara Falls continue to have access to testing resources.

With the appropriately allocated testing resources, Niagara Falls had been able to amplify testing for COVID-19, helping the community to get ahead of the virus and promptly contact trace in order to contain the spread.  In order for contact tracing to be effective, patients need to be notified in a timely manner (within 48 hours) about their test results. Contact tracing typically involves the following:

–        Interviewing people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 to identify those who they’ve had close contact with during the time they might have been infectious

–         Notifying contacts of their potential exposure

–        Referring contacts for testing

–        Monitoring contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19

–        Connecting contacts with service they might need during the self-quarantined period
(https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/contact-tracing.html)

In order to adhere to these guidelines and experience best results testing needs to be available to those who are potentially infectious and those around them.

 

Niagara Falls Mayor Robert M. Restaino.

 

City of Niagara Falls Mayor, Robert Restaino, was informed in follow up conversations with local hospitals that testing supplies intended for WNY are being redirected to other areas. “Our city has a high percentage of those populations considered vulnerable. We simply cannot accept that we will potentially lose the ground we gained over these weeks and months. It is just inconceivable that states are being left to compete with each other for necessary resources which will only lead to proliferation of the virus.”

In a conference with Niagara County Legislators Mark Grozio, Christopher Robins, Owen Steed, and Dennis Virtuoso on the topic, Virtuoso commented, “I believe in helping the other states with testing but it shouldn’t be at the cost of sacrificing testing for our citizens. This should have been looked at months ago by the federal government and they should have prepared for adequate testing for all the states.”

While NYS has been exemplary in their management of the spread of this pandemic, it’s the poorer communities that are suffering with the reduced availability of testing. Niagara County Legislator Owen Steed explains how this is affecting our community on the local level. “We see the impact of COVID-19 in poorer communities and communities of color and those who are essential workers. Now is not the time to start taking away access that we should all have to testing.”

With COVID cases rapidly rising in hotspots across the nation, it’s important to remain diligent in testing and the ability to provide tests in a timely manner to continue to reduce the spread of the virus. With WNY in the midst of working on reopening plans for schools and the still closed businesses, it’s more imperative than ever that we’re able to keep the number of cases down. A non-partisan report, developed by scientists and industry experts recommends that federal leadership and private sector partnership achieve 30 million tests per week and to reduce test processing time from the current lag of between 5-14 days to a 48-hour standard. Mayor Restaino commented, “This is really a test of national leadership and currently it is a failure as the White House recommends cuts to funding for testing, while we need and should demand better, the virus is not taking any time off.”

 

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