New York State is ready to start testing for potential cases of the novel coronavirus, joining New Jersey and Connecticut, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
The news came hours before New York City health officials announced the results of the latest possible COVID-19 case in the city. The eighth person tested in New York City by the CDC does not have novel coronavirus, city health officials said Saturday afternoon.
As of Friday, New York still didn't have permission from the Centers for Disease Control to begin testing, but Cuomo on Saturday morning said his office "just received word that our test has been approved by the FDA."
"When I spoke to Vice President [Mike] Pence, I urged him to approve New York State's coronavirus test — we just received word that our test has been approved by the FDA," Cuomo said in a statement. "This will expedite wait time and improve NY's ability to more effectively manage the coronavirus situation as it unfolds."
"New York State's Wadsworth Lab will begin testing immediately," he added.
The patient tested over the weekend was a New York City resident who recently came back from a trip to Italy, according to officials. The patient's sample was sent to Atlanta for testing, before New York had received its approval.
The patient began exhibiting symptoms shortly after returning from a trip to Italy, where NBC News confirmed there are nearly 900 people infected, in addition to 21 deaths. Symptoms — which include fever, coughing and shortness of breath — are likely to appear as soon as two days after exposure, or up to two weeks later, according to the CDC.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sounded off on Twitter over the testing delays, pointing the finger at the Trump administration for not heeding warnings sooner.
"We've gotten every conceivable warning about the coronavirus from health authorities across the country and globe. It’s been coming like a freight train and the Trump administration hasn’t even done the basics," the mayor said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Public Health Department said Friday that a lab in West Trenton had been approved to test for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also said that a state lab will be able to conduct testing shortly.
In a teleconference, the CDC said the goal is to have testing available in all 50 states by the end of next week. When presses about which states and places have the capacity, the CDC would not give specifics citing the evolving situation.
So far in the tri-state, there have been no confirmed cases of the illness that has now been found on every continent except Antarctica. NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot says that due to the federal government expanding its criteria for virus testing to include Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea, more people are expected to be tested.
"Viruses don’t respect borders and this broader definition will help us cast a wider net to detect the virus. We expect the number of cases under investigation to grow," Barbot said.
New York City's Bellevue Hospital is one of several local medical centers that are preparing for a possible outbreak. It is home to 1,200 beds that could be readily available in case the virus becomes widespread, according to Mayor de Blasio.
As of Friday night, there were at least two cases of novel coronavirus in the United States believed to have been transmitted to a person who didn’t travel internationally or come in close contact with anyone who had it.
That first patient, a woman in California, was put in isolation and on a ventilator at UC Davis Medical Center. She did not have any contact with any people who are known to be infected, either. Her testing was initially delayed for days because she didn't meet federal criteria.
Previously, there were more than 60 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., most of which stemmed from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
While health experts maintain that the risk of getting the COVID-19 virus is low, spread of the illness is inevitable.