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Lack of tests but more hospital beds coming as region fights Covid-19

The coronavirus has spread everywhere, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz acknowledged Thursday.

But the county has so little testing material left that health officials are conserving the tests for high-priority cases.

And there's no telling when more testing materials will be available.

County officials shared their frustrations over the shortage as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 ticked upward across Western New York.

He blamed the federal government for not being prepared for a pandemic.

"It's not like Erie County is dropping the ball," Poloncarz said. "No one is handing the ball to us. They're not even giving us the ball."

But there were troubling questions about the tests, as a second patient told The Buffalo News that she was told her test was negative, before being told later that, in fact, it was positive.

The economic toll continued, affecting the giant corporations and small mom-and-pops.

Tesla joined other major automakers in announcing it was shutting down most operations, including at its Buffalo solar plant.

And Paula's Donuts announced it was closing until further notice.

Still, the region made a giant stride Thursday in its fight against the pandemic: Catholic Health announced that its St. Joseph Campus is being converted to care for a coronavirus patients.

"This can happen quickly and effectively," Catholic Health President & CEO Mark Sullivan announced.

Fear of the virus has changed so many facets of our lives.

Volunteer drivers for FeedMore WNY continued to deliver hot meals to seniors, but used new social distancing rules.

“I’m delivering to the door. You have to be six feet away,” said Joe Szychowski after pulling into  driveway and dialing his recipient's number on his cellphone.

It's even changed how we grieve.

Mourners and funeral home directors have had to rethink funerals. Some are being limited to a graveside service with immediate family only.

“Part of the piece of the puzzle of grief is compassion," said Timothy J. Gardner, who runs F.E. Brown Sons Funeral Home in Orchard Park. "Compassion is hugging, kisses, shaking hands and assuring people that everything’s going to be OK.”

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