FDA finally clears New York labs to test for COVID-19

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of a mobile testing facility in partnership with Northwell Health and BioReference in New Rochelle, N.Y., March 13, 2020. ( Courtesy of Governor's Press Office )

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally given the green light to New York state's 28 public and private labs to begin manual, semi-automated, and automated testing for the novel coronavirus, the governor announced Friday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his administration has been asking the FDA for clearance for several weeks and blamed the federal government for creating a nationwide "testing bottleneck" with their slow response.

"New York State has 28 laboratories that can start testing immediately, and these new approvals will allow the state to dramatically increase testing capacity and get it to where it needs to be to find the positive cases, isolate those individuals and more quickly stop the spread," Cuomo said. "We're dealing with the virus, but we're also dealing with the fear and anxiety New Yorkers are facing, and we're taking new actions every day as this situation evolves to address both."

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The FDA approval also applies to the Roche high-volume platform for testing. The green light will mean that the state will be able to ramp up testing to "about 6,000 per day in the next week," according to a press release.

On Friday, Cuomo unveiled a drive-thru coronavirus testing facility in New Rochelle, one of the hardest-hit areas of the coronavirus outbreak. The Glen Island Park facility has six lanes for cars and can handle 500 people per day.

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