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Free antibody testing begins Tuesday throughout Erie County

Free Covid-19 antibody testing will be offered at a series of clinics beginning Tuesday for residents of Erie County, the Erie County Department of Health announced Monday.

Appointments will be required for the tests, which are done through a blood draw from the arm.

The clinics will be set up in areas including Amherst, Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Depew, Hamburg, Lackawanna, Orchard Park, Springville and Williamsville, the Health Department said.

The appointments will be available in half-hour increments over three days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The tests are for Erie County residents ages 11 and older and are being conducted by the Erie County Health Lab. They are free and the appointments will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. Parents of children under 11 should speak to their child's pediatrician about testing if they are interested in getting that done.

These clinics are offering only antibody tests, not the nasal swabs that detect an active Covid-19 infection.

"Antibody tests for Covid-19 should be done at least 21 days after onset of any Covid-19 symptoms," a Health Department press release said. "Those symptoms may include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell."

"There are some important distinctions to make about the differences between a diagnostic test for Covid-19 and the antibody tests that we are offering through these clinics,” Health Commissioner Gale Burstein said in a statement. “Antibody tests can indicate past exposure to a disease, but a positive test does not necessarily mean you are immune to a future Covid-19 infection.”

To schedule an appointment, call the Covid-19 Information Line at 716-858-2929 any day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“We have the ability to provide 100,000 antibody tests to our residents, which will start to provide a sense of who has been exposed to Covid-19 in our community,” Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said in a statement.

The county has seen "a significant number of no-show appointments" at its diagnostic test locations, Burstein said.

Anyone coming to a testing site will be required to wear a cloth face covering or some other kind of mask. Antibody test results will be mailed within seven to 10 days.

If you do test positive for the antibodies, the Health Department encourages you to speak to a health care provider.

Diagnostic testing is available to anyone who believed they may have been exposed to Covid-19 or if you feel at risk of having been exposed. To get the nasal swab test, call the Health Department at 716-858-2929. Diagnostic tests are available at this time for individuals who believe they may have been exposed to Covid-19 or if a person feels they are at risk.

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