NYS announces new COVID-19 testing efforts to be put in place

Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 16:11:14-04

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of COVID-19 testing efforts will be put in place to improve the state's ability to detect and control the virus.

A pilot program to detect the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater, which is designed to be an early indicator of the virus spread, will begin to start sample collection in Buffalo, Albany and Newburgh. Sampling will also be expanded in Onondoga County.

"This exciting surveillance program is another tool in New York's pandemic arsenal to evaluate the effectiveness of social distancing measures and the phased reopening of the state," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "As we prepare for an anticipated 'second wave' of virus transmission this fall, we must utilize every piece of available scientific data to inform us and ensure our communities that we remain ahead of the virus when it reemerges."

The governor also announced the discovery of several new clusters of COVID-19 at farms linked to seasonal workers who recently traveled to NY. Mobile testing teams will be dispatched to farms in rural counties across the state.

"Recognizing there are multiple factors that increase risk of COVID transmission present at farms across NYS, the State Department of Health and Department of Agriculture and Markets will deploy mobile testing teams to counties that have the highest influx of seasonal workers. The State will also support as needed with access to isolation housing for workers who test positive," a release states.

The State University of New York has also been approved by the New York State Department of Health to take on pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19. The governor's office says numerous samples can be run as part of one test, expanding testing capabilities as SUNY reopens for higher education across the state in the coming weeks.

"Thanks to SUNY Upstate Medical's research team, and Quadrant Biosciences and the team at SUNY System and SUNY Research Foundation, our testing capabilities are significantly expanded," said Robert Megna, SUNY Officer in Charge. "It will be faster and more cost-effective for the surveillance testing we need as we start to resume on-campus living. We thank the Governor for his leadership and the New York Department of Health for approving this testing."