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The State of New York is taking steps to make coronavirus testing more readily available to its citizens.
On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a push for more testing sites, including a partnership with Northwell and BioReference Laboratories to set up a mobile testing center to examine 200 to 500 people per day in Westchester County, home to the city New Rochelle, where a cluster of confirmed cases have been reported.
Priority testing will go to those who are at “highest risk population” and New Rochelle residents can request testing by making an appointment, contacting 888-364-3065.
On top of the mobile center set for New Rochelle, New York is also partnering with BioReference to run an additional 5,000 tests per day throughout the state. This will be in addition to tests administered at the 28 public and private labs across the state and the out-of-state labs that have already been contracted, according to a press release.
The urgency for testing comes as the demand for test kits grows insurmountable.
“The single most important thing we can do to combat and contain the novel coronavirus is test for it, and while the federal government was caught flatfooted in the midst of this crisis, New York has stepped up to fill in the gaps and ramp up testing capacity,” Cuomo said.
The governor added: “We’re partnering with Northwell and BioReference to run the state’s first drive-through testing facility and ensure the highest-risk population gets the tests they need to help us contain and combat this pandemic in an efficient, safe, smart way.”
Cuomo clarified that the increase in testing will correlate in an increase in confirmed cases, though not a reason for spiked concerns.
“As we run our own test and test more people, the number of people that we find with the virus is going to keep going up, but New Yorkers should continue to remain calm and remember that the more positive tests we find, the more we can limit the virus and reduce its spread,” he said.
Jon R. Cohen, executive chairman of BioReference Laboratories, said testing is a “critical component” in tackling the pandemic.
“I believe that the private sector should be part of the solution in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak and am proud that BioReference can assist Gov. Cuomo as he leads New York State through this crisis,” said Cohen in a press release.
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As of Thursday afternoon, there have been a total of 325 confirmed coronavirus cases in the New York, with 95 from New York City, and 148 from Westchester County, according to the state’s website. The governor deployed National Guard aid to New Rochelle, where the community has been heavily affected by the outbreak.
“Some of the media is reporting this story like our entire area is one giant petri dish of disaster but the numbers don’t reflect that,” one New Rochelle resident told PEOPLE earlier this week. “It’s just an aggressive portrayal of what’s going on here. If you drove through you wouldn’t notice anything. Life is really just kind of normal for a lot of people, even though people are working from home.”
The resident added: “The community knows how to come together and we’ll get through it.”
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