New York will begin ‘drive-through’ testing center for coronavirus

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Workers in protective suits check id’s of patients as they arrive by car at the State’s First Drive Through COVID-19 Mobile Testing Center at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, New York March 13, 2020.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

New York will begin its first “drive-through” testing center for COVID-19 in New Rochelle, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office confirmed to CNBC on Friday.

Cuomo is touring the facility Friday morning, spokesman Will Burns said.

The number of confirmed cases in the state has reached 325 as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state’s official website. At least 148 of those cases are in Westchester County, where the city of New Rochelle is located.

Earlier this week Cuomo deployed the National Guard to New Rochelle and created a one-mile containment zone to assist with the outbreak. Cuomo said schools in New Rochelle would be closed for two weeks beginning Thursday, and officials are adding a satellite testing facility within the containment area to test residents for the virus. 

Workers in protective suits get ready while waiting for people to be tested as they arrive by car at the State’s First Drive Through COVID-19 Mobile Testing Center at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, New York March 13, 2020.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

On Thursday, Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of 500 or more people across the state “for the foreseeable future” as public officials try to contain a fast-moving coronavirus outbreak that’s spread across 44 U.S. states. He said the state was trying to limit the contagion by reducing “density,” or events where a large number of people gather in a close environment.

Cuomo is expected to hold a press briefing on the virus later today.

Last week, the governor criticized the federal government’s response to the outbreak, calling it “absurd and nonsensical.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was slow to initially test people for the virus, he said at the time, then  “in a tardy fashion” it said states could test. The Trump administration’s management of the outbreak isn’t just “bad government and poor planning,” but it will “increase the fear,” Cuomo said.

Earlier in the outbreak, the CDC sent out test kits to public health labs across the country. CDC officials have since said those kits were defective, and it released new guidance and kits for detecting the virus. Cities and states are now working to ramp up their local capacity for diagnosis so that clinicians don’t have to depend on shipping the tests to CDC labs, which can delay the process.

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