COVID-19 rapid test kits now available to all New York counties

Albany County

NEW YORK (WETM) — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that COVID-19 rapid result testing will be made available to every county in New York. These free tests can be done within 15 minutes and without having to send a specimen to a lab.

The New York State Department of Health will deploy an initial 400,000 rapid result test kits free of charge to local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers. The Department will prioritize the distribution of testing kits to counties and local health care providers in areas seeing recent upticks in cases.

The rapid tests can be used to control new outbreaks, conduct surveillance testing, and will also be made available on an as-needed basis to help schools in “yellow zones” test students and staff as part of new requirements to monitor COVID-19 spread as part of the Governor’s Cluster Action Initiative.

“From day one, testing has been one of the most vital tools we have to accurately assess COVID-19’s spread in New York. Today New York State is building on our nation-leading testing program to expand rapid testing to every corner of the state, to give health care providers and localities the tools they need to offer free rapid testing to their residents and patients,” Cuomo said. “These rapid test kits will allow health care institutions throughout the state to quickly and accurately determine COVID-19’s spread, control outbreaks, and keep families and communities safe. Further, the state is taking precautionary steps to ensure localities are providing rapid testing for schools that are nearby communities that have seen recent upticks in cases and are offering in-person instruction. We will provide rapid test kits, as needed, free of charge to all localities to help them meet this new requirement, giving parents, teachers, and students confidence in the safety of their educational experiences.”

On Tuesday, as part of the Cluster Action Initiative, the governor said that schools open to in-person instruction in “yellow zones” would be required to test a portion of their in-person students, staff, and teachers at least once a week. The Department of Health on Friday issued guidance requiring 20% of students, teachers, and staff who are in-person at “yellow zone” schools to be tested once a week starting October 16.

All results must be reported promptly to DOH and will be made available on the COVID Report Card dashboard. As needed, the state will provide rapid test kits free of charge to local governments, health departments, schools, or whichever local health providers are designated by the local government, to help localities and schools meet this requirement which is a key part of ensuring COVID-19 does not spread into schools within nearly geographic proximity to where the state is monitoring cluster outbreaks.

DOH will issue a letter today to all local health departments, as well as hospitals, pharmacies, and other provider organizations, providing details for how to access and receive these rapid testing kits.

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