Facebook is expanding its local alerts tool to more municipal governments, state, and local emergency response organizations and law enforcement agencies, to help spread important and timely information about the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been testing the tool since early 2018. Representatives for the company said it will mean more information for Upstate NY communities.

"When authorities mark posts as local alerts, we greatly amplify their reach so that people living in an affected community are much more likely to see them," the company said.

Facebook said it then sends notifications to the people living in effective areas as well as showing the information in the "Today In" section of the website.

"Government health agencies should be the source of truth for the American public on COVID-19 information," Bryan Piligra from Big Dog Strategies said.

The Buffalo-based firm is doing public relations work for Facebook. It pointed out the company also co-sponsored a Thursday night town hall with CNN about the virus, launched a business resource hub to help small businesses facing unexpected challenges as a result of COVID-19, and is actively taking down misinformation and ads that intend to create panic.