Erie County: Drive-thru testing sites are not a secret

Sites locations are not being announced. Find out why.

Mike Baggerman
March 20, 2020 - 8:30 am
SHREWSBURY, MA - MARCH 19: Medical take a patient's coronavirus test during a trial run for a new FEMA drive-thru coronavirus testing clinic at CVS at 720 Boston Turnpike in Shrewsbury, MA on March 19, 2020. The clinic had a tent on Route 9 and was waitin

SHREWSBURY, MA - MARCH 19: Medical take a patient's coronavirus test during a trial run for a new FEMA drive-thru coronavirus testing clinic at CVS at 720 Boston Turnpike in Shrewsbury, MA on March 19, 2020. The clinic had a tent on Route 9 and was waiting for federal approval. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Note: The photo displayed at the head of this article is from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. It is not from a site in Western New York.

LANCASTER, N.Y. (WBEN) – Drive-thru testing sites have popped up in parts of Erie County as health officials continue to examine ways to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in Western New York.

The testing sites allow someone to simply drive up to the testing site, receive the test, and drive away. It’s a process that only takes a few minutes to complete.

There have been multiple reports of the drive-thru testing sites opening in parts of the region, including in Lancaster, where Erie County Legislator Frank Todaro said he was first alerted after receiving calls and texts from constituents and first responders.

“We were very concerned,” Todaro said Thursday. “(Lancaster Police and volunteers) were told to keep it hush-hush. They did not feel comfortable doing that.”

Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein was pressed by lawmakers on the drive thru testing sites. WBEN also asked her if the county had the intent of being “secretive” about the sites, something they deny.

“It’s not a secret process,” Burstein said. “We’re letting people know this is available and for people who approved to get testing, we let them know the location and time they have to show up. Then, they show up.”

She said health officials were worried about a stigma of an individual going to the drive-thru site and for their privacy. Burstein also noted they were worried that people would see the site and decide to get a test without any recommendation by a doctor.

“We’re not trying to hide anything,” Burstein said. “It’s just that people who need to know the location are told the location. Otherwise, I’m not really sure people need to know the exact location if they’re not going to be tested.”

Erie County is extremely limited in their testing capabilities. In fact, they will not be able to conduct any more tests until they receive supplies from the state government. Multiple other counties have run into the same issue.

Burstein said the lack of test kits is another factor in why they don’t want to advertise the location of one of the sites.

The lack of information by the county concerned Todaro.

“I think the government needs to be transparent on what we’re doing,” he said. “With that, it backfired. My phone just starting blowing up. I had no answers but to explain the process of how to obtain a kit from your primary doctor.”

Todaro said he even witnessed an individual leaving the drive thru site and go to a drive thru at a Tim Horton’s.

When told that the county was not trying to advertise the location to the public, Todaro said it caused more problems than it solved.

“If people were instructed that this is occurring (and told) do not show up, I think people would heed the warning not to show up,” Todaro said. “If they’re finding out there’s a testing facility and it’s wishy-washy on the communication, they’re going to go there and show up.”

Burstein said if you show up at one of the pop-up drive-thru testing sites, you will be kicked out by the sheriff’s office.

AUDIO EXTRAS

Comments ()