FDA allows New York to authorize 28 testing sites statewide

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor
On March 13, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a briefing in the state Capitol on issues concerning the spread of the coronavirus. There were 96 new cases announced Friday, bringing the total to 421 statewide. Drive-in testing started in New Rochelle and expects the numbers of infected to rise as testing increases.

After weeks of demanding federal approval, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday the FDA has given New York the authorization to begin manual, semi-automated and automated testing for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 in the 28 public and private labs across the state.

Cuomo has made higher testing capacity a top priority, and these approvals will increase the state’s testing capacity dramatically — from only 3,000 to date, to about 6,000 per day, in just the next seven days.

“So, we are down in the boiler room now turning all the valves,” Cuomo said. “The labs will be coming on. We think next week we will be going up to a capacity of about 6,000 tests per day, which would be a dramatic increase for us.

“Testing is probably the single most important thing that we can be doing now and as I said it will, that will double,” the governor added. “We’ll be able to do about in one day all the tests that we have done to date.”

Cuomo also issued an Executive Order on Friday to help relieve the economic impact of COVID-19 on workers and assure school aid for schools that have been directed to close. As part of the Executive Order, the state will waive the seven-day waiting period for workers to claim unemployment insurance for those that have been put out of work by COVID-19.

The Executive Order will also eliminate the aid penalty for schools directed to close by state or local officials or those closed under a state or local declaration of emergency that do not meet 180-day requirements if they are unable to make up school days.

The governor also directed the New York State Department of Public Service to suspend public utilities from cutting off service — including power and heat — to customers affected by COVID-19. The state’s major utilities will take immediate action to suspend service shutoffs to households during the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to offer deferred payment plans for customers struggling financially due to the outbreak.