‘New Yorkers Need to Get Tested': Cuomo Says 700 Statewide Sites Test for COVID-19

Gov. Andrew Cuomo expects to lift the "PAUSE" order on two more of New York's regions. Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City met its goal early of being able to perform 20,000 daily COVID-19 tests

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Two more regions in New York are nearly ready to begin phased reopening practices as Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state has met its daily target of conducting 40,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

More than 700 testing sites are now open across New York and the state is testing more per capita than any other state, the governor announced Sunday.

"There is no reason why you should not get the test," Cuomo said, calling on anyone with symptoms to get a test as soon as possible.

"I am not good at this, but this test is not an invasive test, there's no pain to this test there is nothing about this test that should intimidate people from not taking this test. ... It is so fast and so easy that even a governor can take this test. That's how fast and easy it is," Cuomo said, before a doctor joined the governor at his daily briefing to administer the test to him.

Cuomo indicated a significant percentage of the state's daily test stockpile go unused. The governor revealed that some testing sites who have the daily capacity to conduct 15,000 tests are only testing 5,000 per day.

The eligibility to receive a diagnostic test expanded to individuals who would return to work in Phase I, which includes construction, manufacturing and curbside retail.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlines criteria New Yorkers must meet to be eligible for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. (Photo: New York State)

The New York State Department of Health launched a website portal to direct people to the nearest testing site when provided a home address.

Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo said Sunday the Capitol Region and Western New York are qualified to enter Phase I of reopening based on the state's seven metrics to do so. The Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions hit all seven benchmarks required to enter Phase I by Friday.

"There is still a need to increase tracing - the number of people who are prepared to do tracing - and that is a pure administrative function and we'll be working with both Capitol Region and Western New York to get that tracing up," Cuomo said, stopping short of sharing a reopening start date. "That's the only function that needs to perform for the regions to reopen."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shared a similar testing milestone Sunday when he said the city reached its 20,000 daily test goal a week early. The city was able to expand its daily testing thanks to a partnership with CityMD, who will now offer COVID-19 diagnostic tests at 123 of its location across the city's boroughs.

The CityMD testing sites will add 6,000 daily tests, the mayor said, and will offer the test for free to New Yorkers without insurance. CityMD locations can be found here.

"This now puts us ahead of our goal. We had wanted to get the capacity for 20,000 tests per day by Monday, May 25," de Blasio said. "I can tell you we have hit that goal a week early." 

In addition to diagnostic testing growth, the mayor says 140,000 antibody tests will be available for frontline workers as well as another 140,000 for non-essential employees. Free antibody tests will be available at one location in each borough and by appointment only. New Yorkers can make an appointment at the city's website.

The governor announced another 139 COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 22,617. Of the 139 deaths reported, 33 were deaths in nursing homes.

Gov. Cuomo defended the state's handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic at Sunday's briefing.

"People are going to die by this virus. That is the truth," he said. "Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen, despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can't keep everyone alive."

One week ago, Cuomo reversed a March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept patients recovering from COVID-19. Under his latest directive, hospitals cannot release patients to nursing homes in New York unless the patient tests negative for the virus. Cuomo's administration has come under criticism for the March order and the state's growing death toll at nursing homes, a total that has risen past 5,000.

"Who is accountable for those 139 deaths? How do we get justice for those families who had 139 deaths? What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody," he said.

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