State officials deploy rapid COVID tests to all counties

The state Department of Health is deploying 400,000 rapid-result test kits free of charge to local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies and other health care providers in every New York county.

These rapid tests can produce results within 15 minutes without having to send a specimen to a lab.

The DOH is prioritizing distributing kits to counties and local health care providers in areas seeing recent uptick in cases, such as Brooklyn and Orange and Rockland counties.

The rapid tests can be used to control new outbreaks and conduct surveillance testing, and will also be made available on an as-needed basis to help schools in “yellow” zones test students and staff as part of new requirements to monitor COVID-19 spread, part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiative.

“From day one, testing has been one of the most vital tools we have to accurately assess COVID-19’s spread in New York,” Cuomo said in a press release. “These rapid test kits will allow health care institutions throughout the state to quickly and accurately determine COVID-19’s spread, control outbreaks and keep families and communities safe.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, as part of the Cluster Action Initiative, the governor announced that schools open to in-person instruction in “yellow” zones would be required to test a portion of their students, staff and teachers at least once a week, starting next Friday, Oct. 16. All results must be reported promptly to DOH and will be made available on the state’s COVID Report Card dashboard for schools.

Crown Point school goes remote

The Crown Point Central School was notified of a positive COVID-19 case in a student there late Thursday afternoon, Oct. 8, and the school has since transitioned to a temporary remote learning system, according to Essex County Health Department Public Information Officer Andrea Whitmarsh. That is the county’s first COVID case in a school so far.

Superintendent Shari Brannock wrote in a press release that the pre-K-to-12th-grade school will stay remote through at least Oct. 6 as the building is cleaned, plans are made and the safety of returning is assessed.

The county Health Department said the positive student has been isolated and school contacts have been quarantined and that it is conducting a case investigation to identify any other community exposures outside the school setting that may have occurred.

“The school district is doing everything we would want them to do in order to keep the health and safety of students and staff at the forefront,” ECHD Director Linda Beers wrote in a press release.

Essex County

There were 11 reported COVID-19 cases in Essex County on Tuesday, Oct. 13, including five in the town of North Elba (two new this week).

There have been 21,616 tests conducted in the county cumulatively, with 223 resulting positive cases. There have been 3,671 antibody tests conducted cumulatively, with 86 returning positive.

There have been 15 COVID-19-related deaths in Essex County.