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Second person in Erie County dies from Covid-19, positive cases climb to 146

A second person in Erie County has died from Covid-19, officials announced Wednesday night.

The death of a man in his 70s became the county's second connected with the outbreak, the county Department of Health announced. The agency did not release any further details.

As the number of confirmed cases in the county climbed to 146 through Wednesday, the county has continued with restrictions on who is eligible to be tested.

Erie County's Public Health Laboratory has more supplies but only enough to test 350 people for Covid-19.

The county on Wednesday collected specimens at a site in Amherst, but a county spokesman did not have information about how many samples were collected.

In the eight counties of Western New York, there have been 174 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Also on Wednesday, Niagara County announced two more cases, bringing that county's total to 14.

The most Erie County cases continued to be from Buffalo and Amherst, which combine to account for more than half of the county's total. Buffalo has a total of 48 cases after nine were added Wednesday; Amherst has 40 after adding three.

Other towns which added cases Wednesday were West Seneca (three), Clarence (two), Evans (two), Hamburg (one), Orchard Park (one) and the Town of Tonawanda (one).

Because of limited testing supplies, Erie County is following the current protocol from the state Department of Health on who is eligible to be tested, County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said.

"There are limitations on who will be tested," he said.

The criteria for tests at the county lab are:

  • Health care workers and those "posing risks" to health care workers, including symptomatic individuals who are hospital inpatients
  • Individuals living in a congregate setting for vulnerable groups, including nursing homes, prisons and group homes
  • Members of law enforcement
  • Symptomatic women who have recently given birth or who are close to giving birth

Poloncarz said those who are not recommended for testing include:

  • Individuals already under quarantine who develop mild illnesses
  • Individuals with known confirmed exposure who do not have severe underlying conditions or are not severely ill
  • Asymptomatic individuals who have had contact with people with confirmed cases
  • Persons who are mildly ill who do not live in congregate settings

A spokesman for the state Department of Health directed a reporter to testing protocol listed on the agency's website. Those protocol do not specifically address the criteria Poloncarz outlined, but allowed for testing "where the facts and circumstances warrant as determined by the treating clinician in consultation with the state and local department of health officials."

The county's drive-thru testing is open only to those who first consulted their doctors and were approved for testing after the doctors contacted the health department, Poloncarz said.

A total of 721 tests conducted by the county lab have been completed or have results pending, Poloncarz said, noting that other labs besides the county's health lab are performing tests in the county and the region.

"Not everyone is going to be tested by the Erie County Public Health Lab," he said.


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