Rapid Covid-19 tests to be available across NY: Cuomo

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York, (Asian independent) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that rapid Covid-19 tests will be made available to every county in the state state, as the coronavirus positivity rate in 20 hotspot ZIP codes has remained above 5 per cent.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Governor said that the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will deploy an initial 400,000 rapid result test kits free of charge to local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers to help increase access in all corners of the state to free tests that can be done within 15 minutes and without having to send a specimen to a lab.

The DOH will prioritize the distribution of testing kits to counties and local health care providers in areas seeing recent uptick in cases, Xinhua news agency quoted Cuomo as saying.

“From day one, testing has been one of the most vital tools we have to accurately assess Covid-19’s spread in New York. Today New York State is building on our nation-leading testing program to expand rapid testing to every corner of the state, to give health care providers and localities the tools they need offer free rapid testing to their residents and patients,” Cuomo was quoted as saying in the statement.

These rapid test kits will allow healthcare institutions throughout the state to quickly and accurately determine the virus’ spread, control outbreaks and keep families and communities safe, he said.

“We will provide rapid test kits, as needed, free of charge to all localities to help them meet this new requirement, giving parents, teachers, and students confidence in the safety of their educational experiences.”

Earlier on Friday, the Governor tweeted that the latest Covid-19 positivity rate in the 20 hotspot ZIP codes in Queens, Brooklyn, Orange and Rockland counties was 5.4 per cent, compared to 5.8 per cent and 5.1 per cent on Thursday and Wednesday.

The most recent statewide positivity rate excluding these ZIP codes was 0.90 per cent.

State and city governments of New York have ordered lockdown of non-essential businesses, schools and social gatherings in these ZIP codes this week, though criticism and even protests persisted over the closure decisions.

Once the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US, New York state has reported more than 476,000 Covid-19 cases, of which New York City accounted for over 254,000.

The death toll in the state stood at 32,867.

As of Saturday, the US continued as the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 7,660,123 and 213,588, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.