03.11.20

WITH 190+ CONFIRMED CASES, NY HAS BECOME NATION’S EPICENTER OF CORONAVIRUS, BUT NY-ERS’ ACCESS TO TESTING CONTINUES TO LAG; SCHUMER DEMANDS ADMIN DO FIVE THINGS RIGHT NOW TO EXPAND, SPEED & AUTOMATE TESTING IN NY; SUSTAINED FOOT-DRAGGING ON TESTING IS NO HELP TO CONTAINING SPREAD & HAS LEFT US ALL WITH MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

With NY In The Midst Of A State Of Emergency, Capacity To Test For Virus Is Still Largely One Giant Mishmash

Senator Says Feds Must Approve Local Labs In Waiting, Create Special HHS Team To Manage Those Tests & Get Widely Distributed, Approve Automated Testing  Still Sitting In Limbo, Staff A Special COVID-19 Hotline & Make Virus Tests’ Co-Pay Free

Schumer: Admin Has Created Its Own ‘Cluster’ On Corona While Failing Initial Response ‘Test’ – 5 Immediate Actions Must Be Taken To Fix National Testing Regime

Citing serious concerns for New Yorkers and following the $8.3 billion dollar, emergency bipartisan deal he negotiated to fund the federal response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), U.S. Senator E. Charles Schumer demanded, today, that the Trump administration immediately increase testing availability and access to address the outbreak, which is lagging across New York. Nationally, there are over one thousand confirmed cases of coronavirus. Almost two hundred of those are in New York. Schumer argued that the number of cases could be significantly higher across the state, but due to the federal testing lag and foot-drag, the actual number remains unknown.

“When it comes to what we need most in New York: the access, the expansion and the much faster automation for COVID-19 testing, the administration remains stuck in the mud and spinning its wheels,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Congress just delivered billions of dollars to the agencies that need it, but we want those dollars to fuel a come-from-behind response that fixes the disturbing gaps in our testing system. The bottom line is that we must expand availability testing for all those that need it, speed up the response time, make it affordable for all Americans by eliminating co-pays, and approve stalled applications for automated testing. Yesterday. So, we need to see action because, right now, the sustained foot-dragging is no help to containing the spread and has left us all with more questions than answers, which is why we need immediate action on five fronts.”

Specifically, Schumer is demanding the administration for five things immediately to improve the ability to test for the coronavirus in New York:

  1. Expedite the approval of labs who are ready and willing to provide testing. Every lab that is able to provide testing should be up and running as soon as possible.
  2. Provide daily updates on the volume of tests both available and expected and set up a special office or bureau within HHS dedicated to managing the acquisition and distribution of tests. The conflicting reports and lack of information have left states unable to plan.
  3. Support the use of automated testing to increase the speed and volume with which testing is conducted.
  4. Ensure that patients who need tests face no out-of-pocket costs. The coverage requirements for testing are currently a patchwork of state executive orders and private company actions – we need federal leadership. Hundreds of millions of Americans still do not know if they can access affordable testing.
  5. Ensure that COVID-19 hotlines are fully staffed and responsive to patients and providers who have questions and concerns.

Schumer’s call comes on the heels of a two-week-long, one-mile radius “containment area” in New Rochelle, NY that was declared yesterday and will go into effect tomorrow. New Rochelle is a New York City suburb with the largest cluster of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. The epicenter of the containment area is a synagogue, where the congregation’s rabbi has been confirmed to have tested positive and hundreds of people in the congregation have been under a voluntary quarantine order. Schools, churches, and synagogues within the containment area will be shut down, large gatherings will be officially banned, and the National Guard will be deployed to clean schools and deliver food to quarantined students who usually receive free or reduced cost meals at school. Businesses such as grocery stores and delis will remain open, access to streets and travel will remain unrestricted, and Gov. Cuomo will ask business leaders to allow workers to telecommute. The purpose of the measure is not to contain people, but to contain facilities and prevent large gatherings where the virus can easily spread.

As of this morning, New York State has almost 200 confirmed cases, 108 of which are in New Rochelle. 46 of New York’s confirmed cases are in New York City, and according to the New York State Department of Health, there have been 19 confirmed cases in Nassau County, 6 in Rockland County, 2 in Saratoga County, 1 in Suffolk County, and 1 in Ulster County. 14 people are hospitalized throughout the state but there have been no reported deaths as of writing.

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