ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last Friday that more than 20 million COVID-19 over-the-counter tests will be distributed across the state through the Spring to bolster New York State’s ongoing preparedness efforts.
“As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, test kits are a critical tool in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent exposure to others,” Hochul said. “While our numbers remain low, now is the time to ramp up the distribution of tests and build up our stockpile so we can bolster our preparedness for the future to protect our communities, and safely move forward through this pandemic.”
The state will continue to provide over-the-counter test kits to nursing homes, adult care facilities, and schools, and will partner with elected officials for continued distribution to the public, during the next few months to identify new COVID-19 cases and keep New Yorkers safe.
This includes one million tests to schools outside of New York City every other week until the end of the school year. New York City no longer receives state distributions because they have sufficient test kits to get them through the year. At-home tests have proven to be an invaluable tool for identifying cases and protecting our communities; they were responsible for finding at least 15,000 positive cases among students and staff the week after the winter break alone.
“Testing has been a critical tool to curb the spread of COVID-19, and the state continues the important work of getting test kits to New Yorkers,” said state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The distribution of rapid tests has been a hallmark of Governor Hochul’s winter surge plan, and testing continues to help our classrooms, workplaces, and communities at increased risk stay healthy and safe. If New Yorkers have had COVID-19 exposure, experience symptoms, or have recently traveled, they should take advantage of these free at-home tests being distributed statewide thanks to the hard work of our partners at the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.”
In addition to these continued distributions, the State is increasing distribution points for test kits. The State will partner with mayors, county executives, members of congress, borough presidents and state legislators across New York to increase access to tests for the general public. And the state will coordinate the distribution of 1.74 million tests to the NYC Housing Authority tenants, enough for each household to receive four tests. An additional 500,000 tests will be made available to various food banks and senior centers throughout the state, based on request.
The governor’s office identified the need to secure over-the-counter test kits to combat the Omicron surge in late 2021, providing regular distributions to the general public, prioritizing schools and adult care facilities across the state.
More than 54 million tests have already been distributed throughout New York since the beginning of the year, including nearly 30 million tests to schools, 12.5 million tests to nursing homes and adult-care facilities, and more than 10 million tests to local officials for public distribution in their respective communities. The distribution efforts follow the procurement of more than 90 million rapid tests in recent months.
Of the more than 90 million tests procured, approximately 20 million tests have been stored to help prepare for any potential surges later this year.