State begins antibody testing in first step to “re-open” New York

Photo by Kevin Coughlin, Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by Northwell Health President and C.E.O. Michael Dowling, tours the Northwell Health Core Lab in New Hyde Park before delivering his daily COVID-19 Coronavirus briefing on Sunday April 19, 2020. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the governor announced the state Department of Health will begin statewide testing to sample 3,000 people. Large-scale antibody testing will help determine the percentage of the population that is now immune to the virus, allowing more individuals to safely return to work.

The state Department of Health has begun statewide antibody testing this week to determine the percentage of the population that is now immune to the virus, allowing more individuals to return to work.

The testing will sample 3,000 people for a population of 19.5 million people. By comparison, Germany performed a 3,000-person sample with a population of 83 million.

“Any plan to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data and testing, and we have to make sure our antibody and diagnostic testing is up to the scale we need so we can safely get people back to work,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “We are going to start antibody testing across the state [Monday] and we are going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation.

“This will be the first true snapshot of exactly how many people were infected by COVID-19 and where we are as a population and will help us to reopen and rebuild without jeopardizing what we’ve already accomplished.”

Cuomo also announced that New York will continue working with the federal government to assist with the supply chain and help coordinate with private labs to increase the number of diagnostic tests that can be performed.

In other developments:

  • Cuomo also announced that the state is ready to transport 400 ventilators to Massachusetts within 24 hours if they are needed.
  • A new executive order will allow any authorized officiant to perform marriage ceremonies using online video technology. A previous executive order allows New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely and allows clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference, a practice that is banned under current law. The executive order also temporarily suspends a provision of law that requires in-person visits.
  • Governor Cuomo announced New York’s appointees to a multi-state council to help restore the regional economy and get people back to work in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. New York’s appointees are: Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health; Robert Mujica, director of the Division of the Budget; and Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. The appointees from each of these states includes one health expert, one economic development expert and the respective Chief of Staff.

Cuomo announced late last week that in coordination with neighboring states, New York’s schools and non-essential buisnesses will stay closed until at least May 15.

“New York Pause has worked. The close-down has worked. That’s how we controlled the beast, that’s how we got it down,” Cuomo said.

Starting last Friday, all New Yorkers are required to wear masks or face coverings when in public. This order also requires New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings when they are using public and private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles. Additionally, all operators of public systems, private carriers, and for-hire vehicles must wear a mask or face covering at all times while working.

As of Monday, there have been 633,861 New Yorkers tested and 247,512 positive cases.