Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday deployed a testing SWAT team to Western New York to address the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region. The team will open free rapid testing sites across the region in partnership with Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center, and Catholic Health. Eight new testing sites will open on Saturday.

Sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Saturday through Wednesday. All residents are eligible for tests and appointments can be made by calling 833-NYSTRNG (697-8764). New York State will deploy 50 rapid testing machines to support the effort and will deploy more as needed. All tests are free of charge and the results will support the contact tracing efforts being conducted to monitor and control the virus spread.  

"In Western New York, we have a caution flag out and we're going to fly it a little higher today. The region's infection rate was 2 percent yesterday, which is not good news," Cuomo said. "We're going to deploy a SWAT team from the Department of Health that is going to conduct additional testing at eight sites in the region using Abbott testing machines, which provide same-day results literally within the hour. We're focusing on Western New York and we're going to continue to focus on it. Thank you to our partners Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center and Catholic Health for their assistance with this effort." 

Western New York's rate of positive COVID-19 tests has been above 1 percent for nine straight days. The region's daily average number of new cases is now 70 cases per day, the highest since mid-June. It is driven in part by clusters, including a food processing plant in Chautauqua County that has been tied to 53 cases to date, but there is also evidence of community spread which this testing effort is designed to help detect and control.