New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that the coronavirus crisis could last up to nine months as he opened a drive-thru testing facility in the town of New Rochelle, one of the most intense clusters of the virus in the country.
The testing facility will serve 200 cars per day and residents must call ahead to book an appointment first.
People who are most at risk, like the elderly or sick who have underlying conditions and are showing symptoms of COVID-19, will be prioritized with appointments.
Cuomo said it was a safer way to test for positive cases because potentially infected people are not walking into hospitals and exposing others to the virus.
He said the drive-thru would stay open for as long as the crisis lasted, and warned the public that it would be far longer than they may have initially planned for.
‘I don’t believe that this is gong to be a short term issue. We’re looking at a matter of months. People should start to calibrate that into their expectation.
‘I think this could be six, seven, eight, nine-month affair.
‘Watching the trajectory of the virus. People should start to recognize that.
‘This is not going to be over in 30 days. It’s not going to be over in a couple of weeks.
‘There’ll be waves – it’ll go a little higher, a little slower – but it’s going to be a somewhat prolonged situation.
‘We should be ready for that,’ Cuomo said.
He also applied pressure on the federal government to release power of testing to the states to allow them to conduct their own.
The federal government is being crucified for its slow response to the virus.
Originally, it only allowed people to have their tests run at the CDC’s HQ in Atlanta, Georgia.
Then, CDC tests were sent to state public health labs but some, like in California, have arrived without all the necessary parts to complete a diagnosis.
The government says it is working with private companies to use their tests, but the harsh reality is there are simply not enough to go around and not enough staff in labs to keep up with the demand for them.
Gov. Cuomo said that if it were left in his hands, the state of New York would be able to 1,000 tests per lab, per day.
In New York’s private labs alone, that would allow for 200,000 tests to be done a day.
He said he is in constant contact with Vice President Pence and has asked him to consider letting go of the reins.
‘Rather than try to control it all through Washington, the volume is just too high – states regularly regulate labs. We have 200 private labs in New York.
‘Those labs are doing HIV testing, Zika testing – our state department of health routinely regulates them.
‘Say to the state governments, God bless you – you can authorize testing, automated testing which takes a lab capacity from 30 tests per day to 1,000 tests per day.
‘We have a crisis in testing. We’re not up to scale. You need to change that quickly,’ he said.
The drive-thru testing facility in New Rochelle has six lanes.
Residents pick a lane and are called forward where health professionals in hazmat suits then give them a swab test. They give the health professionals their details then drive away.
The facility then will send the tests to a lab. From there, after a period of several days, the test will be returned to the health workers who will then make contact with the person who gave the sample.
Not everyone will be able to drive there and receive a test.
Because of the density of cases in New Rochelle, many flocked to the facility on Friday and lines of up to three hours quickly formed.
No one will be tested without an appointment, and at the moment, appointments are only being given to the people most at risk.
They are the elderly or the sick who have preexisting health conditions and are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Cuomo however hopes to get to a position soon where everyone who wants one will be able to get a test.
‘We are prioritizing people in New Rochelle first because that’s where we want to reduce that density but people throughout Westchester can be served.
‘We are also prioritizing vulnerable populations. Many people will be exposed, many have already been exposed, didn’t know it and have self-resolved,’ he said.
In the state of New York, more than 420 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus. More than 130 of them are in New York City.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jennifer Smith