New York has launched a rapid COVID-19 testing program to help event spaces and businesses begin to reopen across the state.
The New York Forward Rapid Test Program will make low-cost rapid testing available to the public to “support enhanced economic activity as the state continues to reopen sectors of the economy," according to state officials.
“Throughout the COVID pandemic, we have relied on science over emotion and political rhetoric to guide our decisions, using all the tools available to navigate New York's public health and economic challenges,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“I have said from the beginning that testing will be a key part of our post-pandemic recovery because it will help us accelerate the reopening of our economy - without undoing the extraordinary progress we made in beating back the virus.”
Beginning on Friday, Feb. 19, 11 initial sites were opened in New York City, with the capacity to conduct more than 5,000 tests daily, with additional sites expected to open up in other parts of the state in the coming weeks.
“COVID-19 has not only been enormously disruptive to people's daily lives, but also to the state's economy and New Yorkers' livelihoods,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler added.
Rapid tests will be made available through the network for no more than $30 each, with results of the tests coming within 30 minutes to allow people to schedule ahead of time and report the results to the state for potential contact tracing.
According to Cuomo, the New York Forward Rapid Test Program aims to dramatically expand access to rapid testing to allow business and entertainment centers to more safely re-open, providing an additional layer of protection and confidence as New Yorkers resume economic activity.
“With testing sites located throughout the City, the New York Forward Rapid Test Program will help us ensure that we are encouraging economic activity while minimizing the risks to people's health,” he said.
The state is currently working to identify sites in commercial centers that can be donated for the testing network. Donated sites must be in a commercially-zoned corridor, contain at least 750-square-feet of open space, and be available immediately for a minimum of six months, with street-level access, a restroom and be Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant.
The initial testing sites will be operated by:
- BioReference Laboratories at select CVS Pharmacy locations and other locations;
- Clarity MedHealth, which operates mobile testing sites. Additional mobile testing sites are being added in the coming weeks that can be relocated around the State as needed to support economic activity;
- Quest Diagnostics will open additional sites in New York City and other regions across the state in the coming weeks, along with options for confirmatory COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing.
“A negative test result does not rule out the possibility of infection or mean that an individual is not at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19,” officials said. “However, the initiative's screening and testing is another tool - in addition to the use of face coverings, social distancing, and other protocols - that can put New York State businesses on track to reopen more safely at higher capacities.”
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