Niagara Falls leaders concerned COVID-19 cases will rise if feds don’t return testing supplies

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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB)–Niagara Falls Mayor Rob Restaino says he’s worried the city is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to testing capabilities.

“When we first started back in the end of March, we were struggling to get sufficient testing in our community.”

He says after finally getting in a groove with the needed supplies, the federal government stepped in to re-direct the chemical necessary for testing to other places throughout the U.S.

“All of which has sort of thrown a real curveball at the city at our ability to continue to stay ahead of the virus and continue to look out for the public health of the people here.”

Congressman Brian Higgins says it’s unfair that Western New York is punished this way – having their supplies taken just because our numbers are trending in a positive direction.

“We have a federal testing czar, believe it or not, who is responsible, in part, for allocating resources. I’m very concerned when they’re allocated from the western new york region, you’re undermining our ability to get out in front of this thing and to manage it.”

Now the biggest concern is that lack of testing and longer result waiting times will lead to further spread, causing the city’s numbers to spike again.

“We’re now at a point where we’ve flattened the curve, gotten ahead of the virus to the extent that we’re able to but we’re also now reacting quicker so we can trace and stay ahead of any potential spread. That’s now going to be severely limited by this because we now won’t have that same kind of reaction time.”

Late last week, Congressman Higgins sent a letter to the federal testing czar, demanding the government returns Niagara Falls’ supplies. Higgins says he hasn’t heard back, but will reach out every day until he gets a response.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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