As New York continues to ramp up its testing capacity, COVID-19 tests will soon be available at pharmacies around the state, Governor Cuomo said Saturday.
The governor is signing an executive order allowing 5,000 independent pharmacists to conduct tests, with results to be processed at 300 labs around the state.
“We have boosted the lab capacity to an extent where we need more collection sites now,” he said.
The order authorizes, but does not mandate, that pharmacies perform tests. “I assume, and my guess, and my educated guess, is that independent pharmacists will take us up on this,” he said.
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The state is also opening up testing to all essential workers, including not just first responders and health care workers but all classifications not subject to the state’s work-from-home order, from grocery store clerks and mail carriers to auto repair workers and dry cleaners.
Previously, tests had been prioritized for those showing the most serious COVID-like symptoms and those at highest risk for complications.
“They’ve been exposed,” he said. “When you go in to the dry cleaner, this is the person on the other side of the counter who’s interacting with dozens of people a day. So we want to make sure those people get tested.”
The state also continues to expand antibody testing, which is now available to frontline health care workers at Elmhurst, Bellevue, SUNY Downstate and Montefiore Hospitals. Next week, antibody tests will be made available to transit workers, NYPD and State Police officers.
Meanwhile, most indicators continue to point in the right direction, with total hospitalizations, intubations and new hospitalizations all trending downward. “All the numbers are basically saying the same, that we are in fact on the downside of the mountain,” Cuomo said.
The exception was the 437 deaths statewide recorded yesterday, which was a tick up from 422 a day prior.
“Just when you think you’re going to have a good day, this reality slaps you right in the face,” he said. “This is just terrible, terrible, horrific news.”