NY will make Covid-19 testing available for first responders, medical workers and essential employees

Posted 25 April 2020 at 7:37 pm

Governor authorizes 5,000 pharmacies to serve as sites where tests can be collected

Press Release, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Photo by Tom Rivers: The American and New York State flags are lowered outside the state Department of Transportation facility today on Route 31 in Albion. The flags are at half staff in honor of the victims of Covid-19. There were 437 confirmed deaths in the state on Friday from Covid-19 n Friday, bringing the state’s total to 16,599. Friday there were also 10,553 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 282,143.

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the state is expanding diagnostic testing criteria to include more frontline New York workers – a direct result of rapidly increasing diagnostic testing capacity.

The expanded criteria will now allow all first responders, health care workers and essential employees to be tested for Covid-19 even if they aren’t symptomatic. The state will continue to expand testing criteria as testing capacity increases.

Cuomo also announced he will issue an Executive Order allowing pharmacists to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19. This action will unlock a network of over 5,000 pharmacies as COVID-19 testing locations and help the state build a collection network to meet laboratory capacity and increase overall testing capacity.

“I am issuing an Executive Order allowing our state’s 5,000 pharmacies to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19, which will greatly increase our testing capacity and allow us to expand eligibility for these tests to the frontline workers and essential employees who have been going to work and interacting with the public throughout this crisis,” Cuomo said.

The governor also announced the state is continuing to conduct antibody testing for frontline health care workers, including at four hospitals and health care systems in New York City today. The antibody testing will be conducted at Bellevue Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Montefiore Medical Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center which is currently being used only for COVID-19 patients. Additionally, the state will begin conduct antibody testing for first responders and transit workers starting next week, including MTA employees and transit workers, New York State Police and the New York City Police Department.

The state wants to expand testing and include essential workers because they are out in the public and could possibly spread the virus to a lot of people.

“We had a protocol with eligibility, not everybody could get a test and that’s been a big complaint across the board. Everybody wants a test and they couldn’t get tests because we had a tight screen on the eligibility because we had a limited capacity to test,” Cuomo said. “As you increase the capacity to test, you can increase the eligibility. The first responders, health care workers and essential employees, why? Because these people have been carrying the load and they have been subjected to the public all during this crisis and because they’re public facing. These are the people who you interact with. You get on a bus, this is the bus driver. You get in a subway car, this is the subway conductor. You are interacting with government, these are the people you’re interacting with.”

Cuomo said the state has made progress in flattening the curve and defying more dire projections about infections and deaths from Covid-19.

“This is a terrible experience to go through, but we will manage it, we will handle it, and we will be the better for it,” Cuomo said. “56 days, all this inconvenience what you’re doing is actually saving lives. That’s not rhetorical. That’s not overly dramatic. You are saving lives. What we have done here has saved lives.”

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