On Monday, New York state sent 200 rapid-testing machines, which process COVID-19 diagnostic tests in 15 minutes, to targeted ZIP codes with the highest rate of coronavirus infections. State Health Department officials will conduct the rapid testing if local governments lack medical personnel.
The machines were sent downstate to help combat rising coronavirus clusters in some New York City neighborhoods and counties surrounding the metro area to prevent subsequent shutdowns.
This is not the news New York City wanted to hear and it’s bad news with bells on for upstaters, given the speed with which COVID-19 can spread from one area to another.
The state’s COVID-19 numbers are creeping higher in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods and areas in Orange and Rockland counties over the last several days as the fall weather turns crisp and students return to school classrooms and college campuses. For upstaters, it is an uncertain forecast of things to come.
Brooklyn had a positive infection rate Monday of 2.6%, compared to 2% positive citywide. The Mid-Hudson region, which includes Orange and Rockland counties, had a 3% infection rate, with other blips throughout the Southern Tier. These areas are close to the Capital District region, including Greene and Columbia counties. Maybe they are too close for comfort.
Health officials will conduct targeted COVID-19 diagnostic tests in potential hot spots over the next several days with the hope that local health and education officials in those ZIP codes start testing their students.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has emphasized the machines can do four tests per hour and he wants them in schools to test students. But the state has to boost public confidence in the accessibility and accuracy of these machines and take seriously the real fear of a new COVID wave and more economically devastating shutdowns.