NY widens COVID-19 testing availability as Cuomo says test sites aren't using full capacity

To underscore how easy and painless it is to get tested for the virus, a doctor performed a nasal swab test on the governor during his daily news conference.

News 12 Staff

May 17, 2020, 12:21 AM

Updated 1,436 days ago

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing Sunday that COVID-19 testing sites across New York state are only using a part of their full capacity.
He urged anyone with symptoms or who may have had contact with a COVID-19 patient to get tested, citing the importance of widespread testing on the state's reopening efforts. 
To underscore how easy and painless it is to get tested for the virus, a doctor performed a nasal swab test on the governor during the briefing on live television.
The state is launching a new website to help New Yorkers find coronavirus testing sites nearby, coronavirus.health.ny.gov.
All New Yorkers experiencing flu-like symptoms or other signs of coronavirus, such as a dry cough or chest pains, are now eligible to be tested for the disease, along with people who will be returning to work as part of phased reopenings across the state, Cuomo said Sunday.
The state is expanding eligibility as it deals with a surplus of testing capacity. Drive-thru and walk-in testing sites are performing about one-third of the 15,000 tests they're capable of each day, Cuomo said.
In all, the state is testing about 40,000 people per day.
An agreement with CVS will allow samples to be collected at more than 60 pharmacies across the state, Cuomo said. Testing in New York City is being expanded to 123 CityMD walk-in clinics.
On PIMS, the pediatric inflammatory syndrome affecting children that's believed to be linked to COVID-19, Cuomo says 16 other states are reporting seeing possible cases. He says the emergence of the virus could impact the state's actions on reopening summer camps or school in the fall, but did not formally announce anything on that front yet.
Cuomo also said that the state is looking at special exceptions for religious ceremonies, and ceremonies that safely honor Memorial Day. He said guidance will be released Monday or Tuesday about it.
Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.
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BRIEFING NOTES:

-Hospitilizations and intubations are both down today, Cuomo says. Daily death tolls are down to 139 in the past 24 hours, from 157 yesterday.
-On where NY regions stand as they look to reopen, the governor says the Capital and Western New York regions will be ready to reopen once they finalize testing and tracing capacity.
 
-Cuomo discussed mental health concerns, noting a surge in the number of citizens reporting mental health distress amid the COVID-19 crisis. He says a mental health coalition is working on a project to address this. He urges people to to go the website www.HowAreYouReally.com for some help.
 
-On testing, New York has rapidly expanded its diagnostic testing capacity, Cuomo says. He announces a new agreement with CVS pharmacies to roll out additional testing sites. He says the state now has more than 700 testing sites across the state.
-The "new problem" is that the state has more sites and more testing capacity than we are using. Locations can do up to 15,000 per day are currently doing about 5,000 per day -- and Cuomo urges any individual who thinks they have a COVID symptom to get a test, along with anyone who had contact with someone who has the virus.
-To demonstrate how quick and painless the test is, Cuomo had a nasal swab COVID-19 test performed on him in the middle of the press briefing by a doctor.
-Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa addressed a backlog in the state unemployment system, and cited "tremendous progress" in getting through that and processing the claims.
-On testing, Cuomo says we're at 40,000 tests performed per day.
-On PIMS, the pediatric inflammatory syndrome affecting children that's believed to be linked to COVID-19, Cuomo says 16 other states are reporting seeing possible cases. He says New York has more than 125 suspected cases. Asked by a reporter on whether the emergence of the syndrome could affect thinking about school in the fall, Cuomo confirms that it does, but he does not elaborate on any potential impacts on schooling at this time.
-In response to a question, Cuomo says the state is looking at special exceptions for religious ceremonies, and ceremonies that safely honor Memorial Day. He says guidance will be released Monday or Tuesday on that.
 
PHOTOS: Countries around the world cope with COVID-19
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