New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will be establishing a COVID-19 testing site in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Pinellas Community Church and donating personal protective equipment there. The site is expected to provide up to 500 tests per day.
While New York has largely contained the virus after seeing an early spike, cases in Florida have been on the rise in recent weeks, with the state reporting record-high averages in COVID-19 deaths.
In the past week, Florida has reported 130 new deaths daily, up more than 14 percent, according to reports.
Cuomo again made note of the volunteers and outpouring of support New York received from the rest of the country when New York was one of the nation’s first and largest hotspots for the virus.
"In our time of need, I asked on one dark day when I was doing a briefing for volunteers to come help us. I asked for doctors and nurses to come to New York, and 30,000 people from across the country rolled up their sleeves to help," Cuomo said.
"I know I speak for all New Yorkers when I say we will always be grateful for that help that came to us, and we are paying back the favor today by sending PPE to St. Petersburg, where we've worked together to establish a community testing site. We will continue to return the favor and lend help to whoever needs it.”
According to Cuomo, the church testing site was created with expertise and resources from SOMOS Community Care. New York State will also provide the following supplies:
- 124,000 Surgical Masks (50 cases);
- 7,500 VTM Test Kits;
- 7,500 Gowns;
- 11,500 Gloves;
- 1,500 N95 Masks;
- 7,500 Face Shields;
- 1,250 Gallons of Hand Sanitizer;
- 1,200 Sanitizing Wipes;
- 120 Goggles;
- 10 Closed Circuit Ventilators;
- 10 iPads to assist with telehealth needs.
"As Florida continues to confront the worst of COVID-19, I am grateful for the State of New York's technical assistance and guidance, along with donations of test kits and vital supplies, and am proud to partner with them to ensure residents in our hardest-hit neighborhoods have access to additional testing,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a statement.
“Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg are on the right track. We have led the way in Florida every step of the way, but widespread testing and the subsequent protocols remain key to getting on the other side of this health crisis.”
Dr. Ramon Tallaj, the founder and chairman of SOMOS Community Care added that they “go where we are needed” in response to setting up a testing site in Florida and other communities in need around the country.
“SOMOS doctors were on the frontlines as the virus spiked early in New York City this past spring and hit the communities where we live and work first and hardest,” he said. “So, our diverse community doctors, many of whom are immigrants themselves, understand just how vulnerable low-income, immigrant, and minority communities are to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Tampa-St. Petersburg.
“We look forward to sharing expertise with local health experts and community leaders to help stop the spread of the virus."
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