ALBANY — The state’s rapid COVID testing program will expand Thursday with 25 new test sites statewide, including two in the Capital Region.
Quest Diagnostics in Guilderland has been the only area location participating in the New York Forward Rapid Test Program, which is heavily centered in New York City.
On Thursday, BioReference’s Albany site and Quest’s Malta site will join the list.
The program makes low-cost, rapid-result tests available to the general public — no more than $30, no longer than 30 minutes. Those who test negative can show their results to gain admission to sports and entertainment events in New York.
By mid-April, 70 sites are expected to be operating statewide.
In a news release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: ”These new rapid testing sites will be invaluable tools for communities and businesses because they will provide an additional layer of protection as New Yorkers return to their economic activities.”
Even as a growing number of people are vaccinated against COVID, New York’s pandemic metrics have mostly stopped improving and are once again among the worst in the nation, though much lower than three months ago. Testing remains a key means of tracking the transmission and severity of the virus.
Through Tuesday, 44,946,152 COVID tests have been administered in New York.
In other COVID news Wednesday:
- A public awareness campaign dubbed “Don’t Hesitate, Vaccinate” was launched in the Capital Region. Fifteen community leaders will encourage everyone to receive the COVID vaccine. The eight-county region is home to 1.08 million people; 365,707 of them have received at least one dose of vaccine, but Black and Hispanic residents are being vaccinated at lesser rates than other demographics.
- Albany International Airport said it would become the first commercial retailer of COVID test kits in the state. The saliva-based tests will be sold by Quest Diagnostics near the baggage claim for $65. They previously were available there only to travelers.
- The seven-day average positive COVID test rate stood at 3.5% statewide, 2.4% in the Capital Region and 1.6% in the Mohawk Valley. At the county level, the rate was Albany 2.3%, Fulton 3.7%, Montgomery 4.5%, Rensselaer 1.6%, Saratoga 3.1%, Schenectady 2.6%, and Schoharie 1.4%.
- Statewide, 4,651 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 100 in the Capital Region and 56 in the Mohawk Valley.
- Sixty-two new deaths brought the official state death toll to 40,513.