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WNY sees increased demand for COVID-19 tests

The Erie County Department of Health is expanding testing to six days a week due to increased demand.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Across Erie County and in other communities here in Western New York more and more people are seeking out COVID-19 testing.

The Erie County Health Department is expanding testing to six days a week due to increased demand.

"I think people realize that the Delta variant is a very aggressive strain. It's very highly transmissible, more highly transmissible than other COVID-19 strains that we've had in our community," according to Dr. Gale Burstein, the Erie County commissioner of health.

She also believes more people are getting tested to cross the border into Canada or travel to other destinations.

Erie County's testing clinics aren't alone in the uptick either.

We've expanded our diagnostic COVID-19 testing to 6 days a week (Mon-Fri: 9am-4pm and Sat: 8am-12pm) based on increased...

Posted by Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) on Thursday, August 19, 2021

"We have seen a significant increase in requests for testing. At our pharmacies, it's increased so dramatically we've actually purchased PCR machines for our seven locations," said James Rutowski, the owner of Sinclair Pharmacy with multiple locations in the Buffalo area. 

He told 2 on Your Side that they're also seeing an increase in vaccine appointments. 

"Today we did, at this location, about 70 vaccines. About 50 new and 20 second doses. So we were really happy that we were able to get 50 more people immunized and we're seeing similar numbers across the board at all the other stores in Western New York," Rutowski said.

He added, "This is really starting to get to people that they're listening to the science, and they're deciding that it is time for them to get vaccinated." 

Dr. Burstein said the county's vaccine rollout efforts continue. 

"We're working with our community health workers that are valued sources of information, credible sources of information, so they're gonna be starting to go door to door and engage with people in their community. Talk to them about the vaccine and why it's so important and we're gonna be working with them to set up mobile pop up clinics in those areas," Dr. Burstein said.

She said they're also working with physician's offices to make the vaccine as accessible as possible.

For those who haven't gotten the shot yet, Rutowski said the opportunity is still there. 

"It's never too late until you're sick with COVID," Rutowski said.

He added, "When we're trying to get people vaccinated it's not because there's some other hidden agenda. It's because we want people to be safe." 

We also heard back from the Cattaraugus County Public Health Director, Dr. Kevin Watkins. He said they're also seeing an increase in demand for testing.

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