Cuomo opens 1st drive-through coronavirus testing site in New Rochelle, predicts outbreak could last 9 months

1010 WINS Newsroom
March 13, 2020 - 3:20 pm
The New Rochelle drive-through testing site

Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS

NEW ROCHELLE (1010 WINS) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened New York’s first drive-through coronavirus testing center in New Rochelle and predicted the outbreak could last up to nine months.

The drive-through site is at Glen Island Park, near the one-mile containment zone in New Rochelle, which has seen the most number of coronavirus cases in the state. Schools in the city are closed until March 25.

The site can handle 200 cars per day and is "faster, easier, smarter and safer," Cuomo said, because people aren't exposed to others who may be ill.

Cuomo coronavirus New Rochelle
Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS

“Drive-through testing means people in this community can call a telephone number, make an appointment, and they can come to be tested and literally drive through the testing facilities,” Cuomo said. “There are six lanes that are operating.”'

The number to call to set up an appointment is: 888-364-3065.

Cuomo said New Rochelle residents will be tested first, along with people from Westchester who are among vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. However, all Westchester residents are eligible for an appointment.

At the news conference, Cuomo also predicted that the state will be fighting the coronavirus outbreak for six to nine months.

Meanwhile, the FDA announced it was authorizing New York state to contract with private labs to increase testing capacity.

Cuomo said the decision would allow the state to do 6,000 tests a day—more than all the tests its done since the outbreak began. On Wednesday, Cuomo said that the state was looking to contract 28 private labs to conduct testing.

"This New York State Department of Health action shows the FDA’s extreme flexibility and adaptability during times of public health emergencies," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said. 

"As a practical matter, what this action means is that labs, authorized by NYSDOH, will not engage with FDA to begin patient testing. Nor will they get an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. These labs will interact solely with NYSDOH, which should expedite the availability of patient testing in New York State. This action demonstrates FDA’s responsiveness to the needs of our country during this time," Hahn said.

The FDA said it decided to grant flexibility to the state Department of Health based on "the urgent public health need for additional testing capacity." The agency said the Department of Health has "a long-established framework in place for oversight of laboratory developed tests in New York State."

Multiple public and private schools announced they would close in the coming days amid the outbreak. The New York Public Library, which operates 92 branch and research libraries in three New York City boroughs, said it would close all locations from March 14 to March 31.

"After carefully considering a multitude of factors and the rapidly changing situation in New York City around novel coronavirus (COVID-19), all New York Public Library locations will be closed to the public beginning on Saturday, March 14 through at least Tuesday, March 31," the library system said in a statement.

"We made this decision to support the overall health and wellness of our communities and for the safety of our patrons and staff. It was a difficult decision, as we care deeply about serving the public, but the responsible thing to do—and the best way to serve our patrons right now—is to help minimize the spread of COVID-19," the statement read. 

The library system said it will continue to offer access to e-books (via our e-reading app SimplyE) and digital resources such as our Ask NYPL reference. It will also continue to offer help service, expert staff recommendations, research tools and information on how to take the Census online.

Coronavirus cases in New York state jumped by 96 to 421 on Friday as NYC cases increased by 59 to 154, Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency for New York City Thursday, predicting “we'll be at 1,000 cases next week.”

Most New York City schools are open, although Brooklyn College and two public schools on Staten Island closed Friday after two students tested positive. Two co-located schools in the Bronx also closed after a student tested positive. Success Academy Charter Schools, which has 45 schools across the boroughs, said it was suspending on-campus classes and starting online-learning March 19.

Officials dispelled rumors that there were plans to close the subway and commuter rails.

Cuomo told 1010 WINS: “This is all crazy rumors now. Anxiety is high, I understand it.... But no, subways are not closing down, roads are not closing, New York City is not closing down.” 

The governor encouraged "social distancing" and spoke to hundreds of business leaders to encourage that they use different work shifts, telecommuting and working from home.

He also added that they were going to "lead by example" and guarantee paid leave for all state workers who are quarantined.

Cuomo also added that they will now double cleaning protocol on public transportation after receiving conflicting details regarding how long the virus lives on a surface.

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