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'New York Forward' rapid test program to help businesses & catered events reopen safely

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Fri, Feb 19th 2021 04:20 pm

Public-private partnership first announced in governor's 2021 State of the State to make low-cost rapid testing available for enhanced economic activity
11 initial sites are open today in New York City, capable of conducting more than 5,000 tests per day

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced the launch of the “New York Forward” rapid test program to help businesses safely reopen. This unique public-private partnership – first announced in the governor's 2021 State of the State – will make low-cost rapid testing available to the public to support enhanced economic activity as the state continues to reopen sectors of the economy. Eleven initial sites will open today in New York City with the capacity to conduct more than 5,000 tests per day, while additional sites are scheduled to open in New York City and other parts of the state in the coming weeks.

"Throughout the COVID pandemic, we have relied on science over emotion and political rhetoric to guide our decisions, using all the tools available to navigate New York's public health and economic challenges," Cuomo said. "I have said from the beginning that testing will be a key part of our post-pandemic recovery because it will help us accelerate the reopening of our economy – without undoing the extraordinary progress we made in beating back the virus. With testing sites located throughout the city, the ‘New York Forward’ rapid test program will help us ensure that we are encouraging economic activity while minimizing the risks to people's health."

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "COVID-19 has not only been enormously disruptive to people's daily lives, but also to the state's economy and New Yorkers' livelihoods. The ‘New York Forward’ rapid test program, announced by Cuomo as part of his 2021 State of the State agenda, is just one of many innovative public private partnerships ESD is utilizing to help the reopen the economy following the global pandemic and move New York forward."

The “New York Forward” rapid test program aims to dramatically expand access to rapid testing to allow business and entertainment centers to more safely reopen. A press release stated, “The network provides an additional layer of protection and confidence as New Yorkers resume economic activity, and it anticipates future state guidance that will increase capacity limits contingent upon testing. The governor previously announced that catered events above the social gathering limit will be able to resume in accordance with state guidance on March 15, and all patrons must be tested prior to the event. Local health departments must be notified of events in advance. There will be a 50% capacity limit and no more than 150 people can attend the event.”

Testing providers participating in the network must make rapid testing available for no more than $30, provide participants with their results within 30 minutes, offer a mechanism for people to schedule in advance and report the results to the state. To reduce the cost of testing for New Yorkers and expand the number of sites, the state is providing access to Abbott BinaxNow tests at cost to some providers and working with the Real Estate Board of New York, business improvement districts and other partners across the state to identify vacant spaces in commercial centers that can be donated for the testing network. Donated sites must be in a commercially zoned corridor, contain at least 750 square-feet of open space and be available immediately for a minimum of six months. Sites must have street-level access, a restroom and be Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant.

Entities that meet the above criteria and are interested in participating should email [email protected] for consideration.

Individuals who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and have not had a recent known exposure to the coronavirus may participate in this initiative by visiting participating locations and completing a questionnaire. Individuals must continue to comply with all “New York Forward” guidelines on reopening, including but not limited to the use of face coverings, social distancing and other protocols.

Testing at the initial sites will be operated by:

  • BioReference Laboratories at select CVS Pharmacy locations and other locations
  • Clarity MedHealth, which operates mobile testing sites. Additional mobile testing sites are being added in the coming weeks that can be relocated around the state as needed to support economic activity.
  • Quest Diagnostics will open additional sites in New York City and other regions across the state in the coming weeks, along with options for confirmatory COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing

To find partners participating in this initiative and to make an appointment, visit the program website.

The following testing locations will be open Friday:

  • Clarity MedHealth mobile lab at New York City Police Memorial, Liberty Street and South End Avenue, New York
  • Clarity MedHealth mobile lab at Irish Hunger Memorial, Vesey Street and North End Avenue, New York
  • Clarity MedHealth mobile lab at Pier A, 22 Battery Place
  • BioReference, 1700 Broadway, New York
  • BioReference, 6 West 52nd Street, New York
  • BioReference, 599 Lexington Av., New York
  • BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 27 N. 6th St., Brooklyn
  • BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 30-97 Steinway St., Astoria
  • BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 1916 Williamsburg Road, Bronx
  • BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 2182 Broadway, New York
  • BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 475 6th Ave., New York

Cuomo’s’ team said, “A negative test result does not rule out the possibility of infection or mean that an individual is not at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. However, the initiative's screening and testing is another tool – in addition to the use of face coverings, social distancing, and other protocols – that can put New York state businesses on track to reopen more safely at higher capacities.”

To learn more about the “New York Forward” rapid test program and view the Department of Health guidance, visit the program's website.

New York has been at the forefront of developing testing capacity throughout the COVID-19 crisis, conducting more than 200,000 tests per day on average. Visit the Health Department's website to find a testing site nearby.

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