Testing in Western New York for Covid-19 is expanding as the region's death toll continues to grow.
In Erie County, 27 more deaths were announced Monday, bringing the total number of county residents who've died from Covid-19 to 162 as of late Monday afternoon.
The new deaths mark the second-highest, single-day report of deaths so far in the pandemic.
In a new development, any person showing symptoms of Covid-19 is now eligible to be tested for the illness, Kaleida Health and Erie County government officials announced Monday.
Those who exhibit a fever above 100 degrees and either a cough or shortness of breath now fit the criteria to be tested.
Kaleida Health officials said the organization had expanding testing capability at its laboratories.
Those who have primary care doctors should visit KaleidaHealth.org to answer some screening questions. A doctor's prescription is required in order for testing conducted by Kaleida.
Those without primary care physicians are eligible for testing through the Erie County Department of Health. Those who wish to obtain a test through the county are asked to call the department at 858-2929 and follow the menu options.
Testing will be done by appointment. Testing through Kaleida is done at two sites with results usually given within 48 hours. Symptomatic people are required to self-isolate until receiving their results.
People with #COVID19 symptoms: call (716) 858-2929.
Listen carefully to the options.
Option 1- for public & general Qs
Option 2- ill w/ #COVID19 symptoms w/ primary care provider
Option 3- ill w/ #COVID19 symptoms w/out primary care provider
Option 4- Healthcare providers /4 pic.twitter.com/GTcDxwvgt6
— Erie County Department of Health (@ECDOH) April 20, 2020
Monday's announcement represents the latest expansion of Covid-19 testing in the area. On Friday, Kaleida announced an expansion allowing all "essential" workers to be tested. Before Friday, symptomatic individuals who worked in health care or as first responders or who fit other narrow categories had already been eligible for testing.
Kaleida has a coronavirus hotline open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 859-3222.
There has been an uptick in recent days of the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care with Covid-19, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
Twenty-nine more confirmed cases in Erie County were announced Monday, which brought the total so far to 2,221 confirmed cases, Poloncarz said.
The county hasn't received any updated information on confirmed Covid-19 cases from Quest laboratories in four days, Poloncarz said, noting he was concerned about a jump in total cases once those numbers come in. Quest's results are expected to include cases that include sampling done at a drive-thru site outside a Cheektowaga Walmart, he said.
The highest single-day mark for Covid-19 deaths among county residents came just last week, with 28 deaths reported on April 14.
Niagara County added another death Monday and two more Sunday, bringing its total to 16 as of Monday afternoon.
As of late Monday afternoon, there had been 189 Covid-19-related deaths in the eight counties of Western New York. Across the region, there have been 2,817 confirmed cases.