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State drops qualifying conditions, urges all New Yorkers to get free COVID test

State drops qualifying conditions, urges all New Yorkers to get free COVID test

Cuomo fears return of virus to state
State drops qualifying conditions, urges all New Yorkers to get free COVID test
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Wednesday in New York City.
Photographer: Governor's Office

NEW YORK — In an attempt to preserve the progress it has made fighting COVID-19, the state is dropping the qualifying conditions needed to be tested for the virus — any New Yorker can now get the free diagnostic test.

The 4 millionth test was administered in New York on Wednesday, four months after the first case of the highly contagious virus was confirmed here. That’s more than 10 percent of the 35.5 million tests reported nationwide.

New York state, which comprises 6 percent of the nation’s population, accounts for 15 percent of the nation’s confirmed infections and 24 percent of the nation’s COVID deaths, federal statistics show.

But the infection rate is rising in dozens of other states, and there is concern of a second wave hitting New York.

More testing is more knowledge and more ability to fight the virus, the state believes.

“What I'm saying to a New Yorkers today is, ‘Go get a test. It doesn't cost you anything. It doesn't hurt,’” Cuomo said Wednesday during a news conference.

In the early days of the pandemic, New York gave priority for tests to people who showed symptoms or who were in a high-risk group because the supply of test kits and lab capacity were both limited.

Also Wednesday, Cuomo blocked the planned resumption of indoor dining in New York City when it enters Phase 3 of reopening its economy on Monday. People coming together to eat and drink indoors in significant numbers without masks is too risky, he said.

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“Citizen compliance is slipping. That is a fact. That is a fact. Look at pictures. Look at any street in Manhattan,” Cuomo said.

He said plenty of local governments, businesses and citizens are enforcing the COVID-19 health restrictions, but some local governments are not.

The state will add enforcement capacity of its own, Cuomo said, but it will remain a supplement to the work of local authorities, not a replacement — the state can’t enforce the safety measures itself.

Cuomo spent the largest part of his news conference criticizing a frequent target: The leadership shown by President Donald Trump through the pandemic crisis.

“The first thing he can do: Come clean with the American people,” Cuomo said. “Admit the threat of this virus. Admit you were wrong.”

 “Next time you're smiling at the camera put a mask on it, Mr. President.”

As of Tuesday night, 394,079 New Yorkers had tested positive for the virus and the state’s official death toll stood at 24,866; 879 were hospitalized.

Tests administered in New York state were coming back positive at a rate of 1 percent on a seven-day average.

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