New Yorkers will soon be able to take coronavirus tests at pharmacies after the state’s governor outlined plans to expand screening.
Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday that he had signed an executive order allowing independent pharmacies across New York state to test for Covid-19.
About 5,000 pharmacies will soon be able to do so, with Mr Cuomo aiming to provide 40,000 kits per day.
While some pharmacies belonging to large chains have already been administering tests, the new measure will permit thousands of smaller ones to join in.
“Testing is what we are compulsively, obsessively focused on now,” said Mr Cuomo on Saturday.
He confirmed that approximately 20,000 diagnostic tests were being carried out every day, as state authorities have attempted to track the spread of infection among 20 million people.
According to Mr Cuomo, the criteria for testing will also soon expand to include healthcare workers and essential employees who do not have any signs of carrying the virus.
He added that the step was crucial to protect the public.
“Since we now have more collection sites, more testing capacity, we can open up the eligibility for those tests,” he added.
Widespread testing is now seen as the main path to reopening parts of the state’s economy, Mr Cuomo said. Last week he met with Donald Trump at the White House to discuss plans to increase testing capacity by thousands per day.
The governor said New York would regulate and check testing labs while the federal government would ensure manufacturers were sending enough supplies.
“We would like to get back to the days when only 400, 500 people were showing new infections everyday,” added Mr Cuomo on Saturday. “Twenty-one days of hell, and now we are back to where we were 21 days ago.”
Whilst hospital admissions had begun to fall the state suffered a slight increase in its coronavirus death count on Saturday, recording 437 new fatalaties in a 24-hour period.
Almost 17,000 people have been confirmed to have died from the Covid-19 virus, with more 282,000 infected so far.
“Call it flat with a sad decline, if you are looking for a silver lining,” said Mr Cuomo. “This is just terrible, terrible horrific news.”
The governor also announced new antibody testing would become available for healthcare workers at four New York City hospitals, which are believed to prove that a person has recovered from the virus and developed some form of immunity.
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