AMID ONGOING COVID-19 PANDEMIC, GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES NEW YORK STATE HAS DOUBLED TESTING CAPACITY TO REACH 40,000 TESTS PER DAY, ENCOURAGES ELIGIBLE NEW YORKERS TO GET TESTED FOR COVID-19

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New York State Now Has More Than 700 Testing Sites

Launches New Website for New Yorkers to Find Nearest COVID-19 Testing Sites

 New Partnership with CVS to Bring Testing to More Than 60 Pharmacies Across the State

 Reminds New Yorkers in Need of Emotional Support to Call 1-844-863-9314 to Schedule a Free Appointment with a Mental Health Professional

 State Has Distributed More Than Three Million Free Bottles of NYS Clean Hand Sanitizer to Date

Video of Governor Cuomo Being Tested for COVID-19 is Available Here and in TV Quality Here

 Confirms 1,889 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 350,121; New Cases in 46 Counties

Governor Cuomo: “We set an initial goal, March 13 – seems like a lifetime ago, but it actually was right over a month. Six thousand tests a day, we were going to try to do and that sounded like a very ambitious goal. We then got to 10,000 tests a day, then got to 15,000 test per day, 20,000 thousand tests. I then met with the President and we talked about an institutional agreement between states and the federal government, where the federal government would help with the supply chain and getting materials to the national labs and the states would be responsible for organizing their labs. We said we were going to try to double our capacity at that time on April 21 or thereabouts and everybody said, ‘Oh, you’re being too aggressive, you can’t do it, you can’t do it.’ I said, ‘well, can I tell you, that’s who I am.'”

Cuomo: “We’re at doubling the goal. We’re now at 40,000 tests per day. So that’s May 17. We started with about 6,000 tests. So, we now have a really significant number of tests that we can do so much, so that per capita we are doing more than other countries -significantly more. Diagnostic tests by population, New York is 7.1. Italy is second, 4.1. Canada, USA, nationally is doing 3.3. We’re double the national average. So, thank you to the Department of Health team and everybody who has been working so hard to do that. When you compare us to other states in the nation again we’re double the percentage. Not raw numbers because we’re bigger than many states, but by percentage we’re much, much higher and this is a very big advantage for us because testing originally was used to control the virus.”

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State has doubled testing capacity to reach 40,000 diagnostic tests per day, and encouraged eligible New Yorkers to visit a new website to find a nearby testing site. Today’s announcement comes three weeks after the Governor announced an agreement for New York State to work with the federal government to grow New York’s daily testing capacity from 20,000 tests a day to 40,000 tests a day. 

The state’s diagnostic testing criteria now includes all individuals who would return to the workplace in phase one of the state’s reopening plan. New Yorkers eligible for diagnostic testing now include:

  • Any individual who has COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Any individual who has had contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19;
  • Any individual who is subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine;
  • Any individual who is employed as a health care worker, nursing home worker or first responder;
  • Any essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working; and
  • Any individual who would return to the workplace in phase one of the state’s reopening plan.

The Governor also announced the launch of a new website where New Yorkers can easily find the nearest COVID-19 testing sites. New Yorkers can visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing and enter their address to view a list and a map view of the nearest testing sites. The state has also partnered with Google Maps to display testing site results. New Yorkers can search “COVID testing near me” on Google Maps to easily find the nearest testing sites.

The Governor also announced New York State is partnering with CVS to bring testing to more than 60 CVS pharmacies across the state. Each site will be able to conduct 50 or more tests per day.

The Governor also reminded New Yorkers in need of emotional support to call the New York State Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment with a mental health professional. New Yorkers can access additional mental health resources at headspace.com/ny.

The Governor also announced that the state has distributed over three million free bottles of NYS Clean hand sanitizer to date, including:

  • More than 275,000 bottles to the MTA
  • 188,492 bottles to NYCHA
  • More than 117,000 bottles to food banks
  • 32,512 bottles to farms via CCEs
  • 24,060 bottles to BOCES

VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.  

  AUDIO of today’s remarks is available here.

    PHOTOS are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

   A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

Happy Sunday. Glad to see you all here, Sunday crew. Hope you’re getting overtime, double overtime, triple overtime. I’m on comp time. I have enough comp time to take off nine years now. I’ve added it up.

Let’s look at the facts today. Total hospitalizations is down, good news. Net change is down, intubations is down, and new COVID hospitalizations are down. So, it’s a good day across the plate. It is interesting, and we’ve always been talking about this and been looking at this. It is interesting to see how the decline has actually been relatively flat. Remember, we always talked about we knew how sharp the incline was, what was the decline going look like, what was the contour of the mountain going to look like? Look how long it takes on the way down compared to on the way up. That’s why those spikes are dangerous. Once you have the spike, coming down from the spike is a prolonged period of time. Number of deaths are down, 139. At a different time and place, if I had that news to deliver, that would be incredibly shocking to people. Only in this environment is it not shocking. And relative to where we were, it’s good news.

Again, we’re right about where we were when we started. We just want to make sure we never go back to where we were. The question is reopening, not reopening or not. Everybody wants to reopen. Nobody wants to reopen more than I do. The question is how. We’ve said the five upstate regions are reopening. We have said there’s a dashboard with all the facts and data that are driving these decisions. There’s been a shift in the Capital Region and in Western New York where on the seven metrics, on the metrics, they are now qualified for reopening. There is still a need to increase tracing, the number of people who are prepared to do tracing, and that is a pure administrative function. And we’ll be working with both the Capital Region and Western New York to get that tracing up but that is a purely administrative function. In the Capital District, we have – we need 383 tracers. We need an additional 166 identified. Western New York, we need 521. We’d need an additional 352. We’ll be talking to the regional heads today to find those additional personnel and get them trained and get them ready. But that’s the only function that has to be performed for those regions to open. And again, that’s something that we anticipated, and that’s just administrative and working together with the regions. We can get that done. So, that’s good news.

Today is day 78. Day 78, 78 days, a long time or a short time? You can argue both. When you shut down everything and you’ve gone through the trauma that we’ve gone through, 78 days is a long time. And people are feeling it, and they’re feeling it in a number of ways. We’ve talked about it, but I don’t know that any of us have really explored the depths of the mental health issues that have been created inadvertently through these 78 days. We’ve been so anxious about the day to day and operationally oriented, we’ve been talking about hospitalizations, talking about death, talking about infection rates, but there’s also a more subtle but very present mental health crisis that has been going on. Don’t underestimate the trauma that this has created for people. Out of the blue comes this virus, something we’ve never seen before. You’re living a science fiction movie. It’s been incredibly anxiety producing, traumatic, disturbing, and we’ve felt and seen all along evidence that this is creating a significant mental health challenge for people.

Look at some of these numbers now that people are reporting. The number of Americans who are reporting serious mental distress, up to 38 percent, doesn’t even discriminate by age. Eighteen to forty-four. It’s a multiple of what its ever been and this something that I think deserves more attention than it has gotten because it’s very real. How are you? It’s a simple question that we ask. How are you, really? The Mental Health Coalition is working on a project, my brother-in-law Kenneth Cole, his daughter, my niece, Katie Cole – who is a tech genius – are working with the Mental Health Coalition and they’re working on a website How Are You, Really? They ask people to answer that question and share their feelings and their thoughts. 

Not just “how are you.” How are you? Oh I’m doing fine. Thank you. How are you? I’m okay. How are you? You know, pretty much alright. Getting by. Yeah, but forget that answer. How are you, really means let’s get to a different depth in the question and a different depth in the answer. How are you, really? You can’t be fine. It’s not a trite answer. We’re going through hell. How are you when you’re going through hell? Not good. That’s what happens when you’re going through hell. I’m not good. I’m anxious, I’m stressed. I’m nervous. I’m afraid. I’m afraid. I’m living a science fiction movie. I am afraid. That’s how I am. We’re not comfortable talking about that. That’s not the normal social back and forth. 

The “how are you doing?” question is almost a throwaway. The expected response is “fine.” It’s almost a rhetorical question. “How are you doing?” Fine, good. How are you doing, really? And let’s talk about it and let’s be aware of it. Government can do a lot and groups can do a lot, we can also do a lot in our own lives, with our own families. I’m trying with my family on the telephone, the ones I have in person. How are you doing, really? Really, let’s talk about this. I want you to understand how I feel and the stress I feel and how are you doing, really? It sounds simple but I think it can be very constructive individually. I know it’s been helpful for me and this how are you really can actually provoke a good conversation, so I would suggest people look at it. 

For people that have issues, we have a support hotline where we’ve asked mental health professionals to volunteer their time to connect by FaceTime or on the telephone. We’ve had a tremendous response, use it. This is nothing to be ashamed of ever in life, but especially now. Of course there’s going to be mental health issues and of course people are going to have stress that they need to work through and anxiety that they need to work through. Nothing to be ashamed of ever, but especially now. Also at headspace.com, that has been very helpful and we thank them for their support. 

On the reopening strategy, we’ve said all along that it’s data driven and a big piece of the data driven strategy is the testing component. We’ve all been talking about this testing, especially diagnostic testing, which has been very important. In the beginning, the challenge was what is diagnostic testing? How do we ramp up diagnostic testing? This is a scale that this nation has never done before. How do we do it? How do we do it quickly? It involved the federal government, it involved the state governments. FDA had to approve tests. We then had to get our labs up and running. 

We set an initial goal, March 13 – seems like a lifetime ago, but it actually was right over a month. Six thousand tests a day, we were going to try to do and that sounded like a very ambitious goal. We then got to 10,000 tests a day, then got to 15,000 test per day, 20,000 thousand tests. I then met with the President and we talked about an institutional agreement between states and the federal government, where the federal government would help with the supply chain and getting materials to the national labs and the states would be responsible for organizing their labs. We said we were going to try to double our capacity at that time on April 21 or thereabouts and everybody said, “Oh, you’re being too aggressive, you can’t do it, you can’t do it.” I said, “well, can I tell you, that’s who I am.”

We’re at doubling the goal. We’re now at 40,000 tests per day. So that’s May 17. We started with about 6,000 tests. So, we now have a really significant number of tests that we can do so much, so that per capita we are doing more than other countries -significantly more. Diagnostic tests by population, New York is 7.1. Italy is second, 4.1. Canada, USA, nationally is doing 3.3. We’re double the national average. So, thank you to the Department of Health team and everybody who has been working so hard to do that. When you compare us to other states in the nation again we’re double the percentage. Not raw numbers because we’re bigger than many states, but by percentage we’re much, much higher and this is a very big advantage for us because testing originally was used to control the virus.

Now testing is really going to be very helpful in monitoring the virus. We’re all talking about what is the spread of the virus when you increase economic activity. Well, how do you know what the spread of the virus is? Testing, testing, testing. Not only do we have a large capacity to process the tests, we also have put together a network of testing sites all across the state and we have a new agreement with CVS which has a tremendous network across this state where they’re going to be bringing on testing capacity so we thank them very much for that.

 But we have now 700 testing sites. Okay? So we can do more tests and we have 700 testing sites across the state which means there’s a testing site near you. So many sites that it doesn’t fit on a map. That’s how many sites. That’s what a map looks like when you plot all the sites. It’s meaningless, unless you like those blue things all over the state. So it’s 700 testing sites.

 What’s the new problem? The new problem is we have more sites and more testing capacity than we’re using. Okay? That’s a good problem but that is the next. From hurdle to hurdle, right? Stone to stone. I see it more like from hurdle to hurdle down the track. Now we have more testing capacity and more sites than we’re actually using. We have drive-in sites that can do 15,000 per day. We’re doing about 5,000 per day. The more tests, the better for the state, the better for society, the better for your family, the better for you.

 Who can get a test today? Any individual who thinks they have a Covid symptom. Covid symptoms, coughing, sneezing, fever. What else? Sneezing, coughing, chest pain, cough – because Covid symptoms are basically like flu symptoms. If you think you have symptoms get a test. Get a test. It’s up to you. Any individual who has had contact with a person who you find out had Covid, right? You get that phone call. Oh, I was with you last night at a party. Turns out I tested positive for Covid. Okay. you now qualify for a test. You lose your sense of smell. You lose your sense of taste. That’s a symptom of Covid. Any individual who is on quarantine, precautionary or mandatory, any healthcare worker, any nursing homeworker, any first responder can go for a test today. Any essential worker who interacts with the public. Food delivery personnel, person working in a retail store, they’re all eligible and we’re increasing it today. Any individual who would return to work in Phase 1, construction, manufacturing, curbside retail, okay?

But again, it’s anyone who thinks they have covid symptoms. So, it’s a tremendously large universe of people who can get tested. And all you have to do is go to a website, find the testing site near you, and get a test. And it is a fast and easy thing to do. Now, we’ve been working on this for a period of time. And first we ought to get the testing capacity up, then we had to get the sites up, then we wanted to make it easy, then we increased eligibility. And we just don’t have enough New Yorkers coming to be tested.

 So, I’ve been asking people, have you been tested? No. Why not? Well, they can’t say it’s inconvenient, because we have 700 sites. They can’t say they’re not eligible, because if you have any symptoms you’re eligible. There is a general proclivity where — and I don’t mean any disrespect to the medical profession. My sister is a doctor. But some people just don’t like to go to the doctor and don’t like to get tested. On a personal level, they love doctors. How can you not? But there’s a reluctance to go to a doctor’s office, which I understand. I am not good when it comes to this. I don’t do the scheduled, all the scheduled check-ins that I’m supposed to be doing. And it’s sort of like do I really want to know? Do I really want to go and be poked, and prodded, and investigated, and have a test and then worry about what the test says? It’s just being honest. So, I am not good at this. But this test is not an invasive test. There is no pain to this test. There is nothing about this test that should intimidate people from not taking this test. It is fast, it is easy. It is so fast and so easy that even a governor can take this test. That’s how fast and easy it is. And for you doubting Thomases, which is what you all are, gender neutral, because by profession you are doubting Thomases. I am going to show you how fast and easy it is to take a test and demonstrate why there should be no reluctance.

 This is Dr. Elizabeth Dufort, who is in the appropriate PPE wear. Nice to see you, doctor. You make that gown look good.

 Doctor Dufort: Head up a little bit.

 Governor Cuomo: Head up.

 Doctor Dufort: Close your eyes.

 Governor Cuomo: Close my eyes? Why do I need to close my eyes? You can question the doctor. That’s okay. Why do I need to close my eyes?

 Doctor Dufort: For comfort, it might make you tear a little bit.

 Governor Cuomo: Okay, if I fall asleep?

 Doctor Dufort: Then we’ll have you sit down.

 Governor Cuomo: that’s it?

 Doctor Dufort: Yeah.

 Governor Cuomo: That’s it? Nothing else?

 Doctor Dufort: That’s it.

 Governor Cuomo: Told you. Thank you very much, doctor.

 That is the whole test. I’m not in pain. I’m not in discomfort. Closing my eyes was a moment of relaxation. There is no reason why you should not get the test. And you don’t even have to be New York tough to take that test. You do have to be smart to get that test, and you have to be united, and you have to be disciplined for the period of time that you close your eyes. And you have to love yourself, and love your family, and love New York.

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