State reps, County officials press governor for Covid-19 testing site in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 May 2020 at 3:21 pm

ALBION – Orleans County doesn’t have a drive-through testing site for Covid-19 while its neighbors all have those testing sites.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being asked today to place a drive-through site in Orleans County “as soon as practical” so more people can be tested.

State Sen. Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda), and State Assembly members Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) and Mike Norris (R-Lockport) sent a joint letter to the governor today. That letter also was signed by Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and Paul Pettit, the county’s public health director.

“A drive-through testing facility would help track and treat Covid-19 in a county that has suffered from a lack of testing since the outbreak began,” according to the letter.

In Orleans County, 748 people have been tested so far for Covid-19, with 105 testing positive. The county has a population of 40,352, according to the 2019 Census estimate. With 748 tested, that is one out of every 54 residents in the county.

“Rural communities are often left behind in these decisions because the state wants to concentrate resources in densely populated areas,” according to the letter from the five officials. “However, low-density rural communities like Orleans County are precisely those who are in the greatest need of mobile testing facilities.”

Urban and suburban communities have “a litany of doctors and hospitals in their communities” where there is wide access for testing. However, in Orleans County and other rural communities there are fewer healthcare options, which results in less testing opportunities, according to the letter from Ortt, Hawley, Norris, Johnson and Pettit.

“Adequate testing is a critical step in treating and preventing the spread of the disease, and a mobile testing facility right in Orleans County would allow residents to get tested safely in their own community,” they wrote to the governor.

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