Sen. Schumer calls for free COVID-19 testing sites in Orleans County

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Posted at 11:22 AM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 11:22:17-05

MEDINA, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Senator Chuck Schumer was in Medina Thursday morning highlighting the need for free COVID-19 testing sites in Orleans County as there are currently none in the county.

Standing with hospital and elected officials outside of Medina Memorial Hospital, Schumer called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release billions of dollars it is sitting on.

“With flu season upon us and a resurgence of COVID in New York, in order to keep everyone safe, we’re going to need rapid tests and we’re going to need them quickly,” said Senator Schumer. “Right now, Orleans County residents have extremely limited access to COVID testing, and often they need to travel to Buffalo or Rochester to get tested, which is unacceptable, inaccessible, and could wreak havoc on the health and safety of the community if COVID rates continue to climb. The feds are sitting on over $9 billion that can and should be long out the door, being used to ramp up 100% free testing in places like Orleans. Those dollars should immediately be used to get rapid tests to ensure peace of mind and some semblance of stability to Orleans residents who have already endured a tumultuous year.”

Currently Medina Memorial Hospital and the Albion Clinic are offering COVID testing for Orleans County residents but Schumer says a standalone site that offers free testing would dramatically increase access to testing.

"County officials project that they will need at least 7-8 rapid test machines and thousands of test kits at minimum, compared to the 2 machines and 700 rapid test kits they have now," a release states.

Schumer says the rising number of COVID-19 cases has caused some students who were attending school in-person to shift to remote-only instruction and the additional funding would help meet testing requirements for schools.

“There’s absolutely no question that the health and safety of all students across Upstate New York is paramount, bar none. The federal government cannot and must not repeat COVID mistakes of the past months. Instead, it must do everything in its power to keep students, families, and teachers safe, and use the dollars it has and the premise of robust testing and tracing to tamp down any second wave of this virus and lead us to a true recovery,” said Schumer.