Governor directs public and private labs to coordinate with state on Covid-19 testing

Posted 17 April 2020 at 3:21 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Photo by Tom Rivers: The flags are lowered at the Village of Holley Firemen’s Park today out of respect for people who have died from the Covid-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed flags to be at half-staff for Covid-19 victims while the state is on Pause, which continues to at least May 15. The flag to the left is for emergency medical services and the other flag is for the fire department. The state reported 630 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, bringing the state total to 12,822.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he will issue an Executive Order directing all public and private labs in New York to coordinate with the State Department of Health to prioritize coronavirus diagnostic testing.

This action is part of the State’s efforts to ramp up testing, a key component of the Governor’s blueprint to un-Pause New York. The Executive Order will help ensure the 301 laboratories and hospitals in the state that are licensed to perform virology operate in a coordinated fashion to overcome the testing challenges that every state in the nation is now facing.

The Governor also reiterated his call for the federal government to provide unrestricted funding to the states to help stabilize the economy and allow the states to perform reopening functions. The federal government has passed three bills to address this crisis, including the federal CARES Act, all of which contained zero funding to offset drastic state revenue shortfalls.

The Governor also launched an awareness campaign encouraging low-income New Yorkers to claim their Economic Impact Payments under the CARES Act. The Act provides $1,200 payments to individuals making below $75,000 and $2,400 payments to married couples making below $150,000. However, taxpayers will only receive their payments automatically if they filed 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns.

Because the federal filing threshold is roughly $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples, hundreds of thousands of the lowest income New Yorkers who are not required to file returns will not receive their payments unless they provide their information to the IRS.

To support the Governor’s awareness campaign, the Department of Taxation and Finance launched an Economic Impact Payment information: what you need to know web page and will do direct outreach to taxpayers who may not automatically receive the payments they’re owed (click here for more information). The Tax Department will also partner with the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, NYS Division of Veterans’ Services, the Department of Labor and local community organizations to raise awareness and ensure action is taken by those who need this benefit most.

“As we work over the next several months to un-pause New York, the testing and tracing is going to be our guidepost,” Governor Cuomo said. “No state is currently capable of doing the large-scale COVID testing that is needed. We have 300 laboratories and hospitals across the state that do virology testing and we must coordinate them to become one system — like we did with the hospitals — to get our testing capacity where it needs to be. I am going to issue an Executive Order that says the Department of Health will coordinate all of these labs so we can ramp up testing and get more people back to work.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 7,358 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 229,642 confirmed cases in New York State.

(Editor’s note: Counties with more than 500 cases include: Sullivan, 505; Putnam, 578; Albany, 619; Ulster, 788; Monroe, 975; Erie, 1,929; Duchess, 2,152; Orange, 6,084; Rockland, 8,987; Westchester, 22,476; Suffolk, 25,035; Nassau, 28,539; and New York City, 127,352.)

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