County leaders push for support to administer COVID-19 rapid tests

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State is sending hundreds-of-thousands of rapid COVID-19 test kits to counties across the state. But county leaders say they need more support from the state to help administer them. 

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 400,000 rapid test kits would be dispersed. Sarah Ravenhall, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials, said counties in yellow cluster zones have begun receiving kits, and local health departments in other areas are applying to obtain them. 

“We are so pleased to hear that the test kits are going to be distributed across the state. That is something that we’ve been asking for for a long time. It’s very important to help communities and identify where there are cases of COVID,” Ravenhall said.

According to spokesperson Jonah Bruno at the State Department of Health, New York is providing Abbott ID Now and Abbott Binax Now tests. He said “the federal government is distributing Abbott Binax Now testing kits to states for free. The Abbott ID Now tests were purchased using federal funds.” He also said “point of care testing is more efficient and cost effective than using only lab-based tests.”

Ravenhall said, while the testing is important, many local health departments don’t have the personnel capacity to send out staff to administer the tests, particularly with schools with the 20 percent testing requirement. 

“We need support with staffing. We need trained staff who know how to administer the tests, how to interpret the results of the tests, know how to link people with providers after their test comes back positive,” she said. 

In response to those concerns, Bruno said, the “DOH has been in regular communication with counties and schools throughout the state on how best to meet the resource needs of the local health departments.” 

The Governor also announced Thursday that an additional 200,000 rapid tests will be sent to yellow zone NYC schools.

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