Reopening New York will require massive testing

New York state has about 170,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, a number that only counts infected people who have been tested. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said testing would have to be ramped up dramatically to put New York back in business.

Cuomo said restarting the outbreak-stalled economy will require a massive expansion of testing to cover millions of workers. Public health experts hope that mass screening with antibody tests could help identify who might have built up immunity to COVID-19. Cuomo said the state's Health Department is developing an antibody test.

The governor said that while the state lab will soon be able to process about 2,000 tests a day, New York has 9 million people needing to get back to work. 

>Cuomo: What the statisticians couldn't calculate about New Yorkers

"It's not enough if you want to reopen on a meaningful scale and reopen quickly," Cuomo told a state Capitol news briefing. "We need an unprecedented mobilization where government can produce these tests in the millions."

Cuomo said the federal government should use its leverage to scale up testing and that New York could work in a coalition with neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut

The governor did not provide a timeline, but described the economic restart as a "gradual, phased process and it's going to be reliant on testing, testing of antibodies, testing for diagnostic results and testing on the scale that we have not done before."

Excerpts of Gov. Cuomo's remarks, April 10, 2020: 

Even with our high capacity and high performance on testing it's still not enough. It's not enough if you want to reopen on a meaningful scale and reopen quickly so the testing front is going to be a challenge for us. ...

We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. You need more than several thousand tests per week if this is going to happen any time soon. Private sector companies on their own, I don't believe will be able to come to scale. We're working with the private sector companies. They have the tests but they don't have the capacity to come to scale. You're going to need government intervention to make that happen and the federal government is in the best position to do that. ...

Any way we can partner with the federal government to get these tests up to scale as quickly as possible, we are all in. I like to operate as a coalition with New Jersey and Connecticut because we are the tri-state area. I have spoken to Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont of Connecticut. They will join in a testing coalition. So, I ask the federal government if you are willing to step in and use the federal powers, New York State and New Jersey and Connecticut would partner with the federal government. And let's get the testing up to scale quickly so we can start to build that bridge to reopening the economy.


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