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EDITORIAL: More testing vital in coronavirus fight

EDITORIAL: More testing vital in coronavirus fight

No reason for feds to prevent state from making more tests available to public
EDITORIAL: More testing vital in coronavirus fight
DC VIRUSTALK 2 A clinical technician processes samples of potential coronavirus at a lab in Seattle
Photographer: ANDREW BURTON/New York Times

You’re sitting at home with a scratchy throat and a cough, watching CNN and freaking out about whether you’ve got coronavirus or just a cold.

You want to do the responsible thing and get tested so you know whether you should stay home from work and whether you’re in danger of spreading the disease.

But right now, the reality in New York and around the country is that testing isn’t available to most residents, in large part because the federal government hasn’t given the state the capacity to offer tests to all who should get them.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, the federal government continues to hamstring the state by limiting the number of labs it deems eligible to do the testing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been very vocal and proactive about the need for more testing, saying it’s vital for the government to have an accurate count of the number of people infected so it knows where and how to best distribute resources.

As more residents are tested, the state will get a clearer picture of the extent of the disease and the scope of its response.

On Sunday, the governor again pushed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to approve the use of the state’s coronavirus test by private labs.

The feds on Sunday authorized Northwell Laboratories to conduct manual testing under an emergency declaration. But the governor says more labs need to be authorized for automated testing in order to expand the testing to more citizens.

Why the federal government continues to drag its heels on approving the expansion of testing, even as states like New York beg for approval, is beyond explanation.

Another way the state is going out of its way to protect citizens is by producing 100,000 gallons per week of hand-sanitizer to distribute free to schools, government offices, the MTA and communities where there is a great need for sanitizer.

State production of hand-sanitizer by inmates will help alleviate a major shortage and ensure that public buildings and schools have enough of it on hand to protect kids, staff and others.  Second, it will send a message to manufacturers and retailers about state laws against price gouging.

We’re also encouraged by the state’s continued efforts to combat the disease, including the continued development of guidance for schools, a new policy to close schools for 24 hours if someone tests positive for the virus and a push for legislation to ensure workers get sick time so they don’t lose their jobs when they stay home due to a coronavirus-related issue.

If the state is going to effectively manage this problem, it needs to continue to push for more testing, continue to provide regular and accurate updates to the public, and continue to push for protections for workers, school children and others.

That faster this all happens, the better.

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