New York expands coronavirus testing to pharmacies, Gov. Cuomo says

Testing for the coronavirus will dramatically expand across New York under an executive order Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that will allow independent pharmacies to collect samples to test for the bug.

The state aims to double its current capacity of 20,000 tests a day and expand testing eligibility beyond first responders and health care workers by allowing some 5,000 independent pharmacies to screen for the virus, the governor said at his daily Albany press briefing.

“We had a tight screen on the eligibility, because we had limited capacity,” Cuomo said noting the state is testing healthcare workers in-house at NYC Health + Hosptials’ Elmhurst and Bellevue campuses, SUNY Downstate and Montefiore hospitals.

“We have boosted lab capacity to the extent we need more collection sites.”

Testing for first responders and other essential workers will also ramp up.

Law enforcement and transit workers will be tested for coronavirus antibodies under a new state program, Cuomo said. First priority will go to healthcare workers, he added.

The developments came as another 1,100 new cases were detected in the state, and 437 people — 19 in nursing homes — died of COVID-19, for a total of 16,599 lives lost. Friday’s tally was up from 422 the previous day.

“Only in this crazy reality would 1,100 new cases be relatively good news,” Cuomo said.

Hospitalizations across the state stood at just over 13,000 — the lowest number in nearly a month and the latest sign of progress to contain the virus.

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