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Calls for more help, more testing and more adherence to social distance as Covid-19 spreads

The numbers of Covid-19 cases are growing in Western New York and around the world and so is the fight to determine who has it and to keep it from spreading.

In what CEO Mark Sullivan called a "game changer," Catholic Health said it could soon be able to perform up to 800 Covid-19 tests a day if the proper testing supplies are made available as well.

The testing system produced by California company Cepheid and approved Saturday by the Food and Drug Administration is one that works only on machines that Catholic Health already owns and uses in each of its local hospitals.

Sullivan urged state and local elected officials to "take action now" to ensure that Western New York receives the testing supplies necessary for these new tests. Cepheid and the federal and state governments will be determining how tests will be allocated across the country.

In Albany, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called on the federal government to make private companies produce personal protective equipment and ventilators as the country battles the Covid-19 pandemic. He also said each hospital across the state will be required to increase the number of beds in its facility by 50% and should attempt to double its capacity.

Of the current positive cases in Erie County, 11 people have been hospitalized, three of which are in the intensive care unit, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said.

Burstein and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz stressed that residents continue preventative measures and should act like the coronavirus is "everywhere."

"Anywhere we leave our house, we could potentially come into contact with someone who is Covid-19 positive," Burstein said. "People have to act accordingly."

Meanwhile, in Wyoming County, two residents of a nursing home tested positive for Covid-19. According to the Wyoming County Community Health System, the residents have been cared for in isolation since being tested, contact tracing has begun and the source of the infection has not been determined.

The virus is affecting a needed medical service: blood supplies. The Red Cross and ConnectLife are urging organizations to host local blood drives and are urging donors to make appointments to donate blood locally.

Locally, residents eager to get outside congregated at area parks, considered a "sanctuary" from Covid-19. Poloncarz warned that popular parks including Chestnut Ridge in Orchard Park and Delaware Park were becoming congested and he urged those suffering from cabin fever to explore other outdoor recreation, while maintaining social distance.

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