New York City is coming up with its own solutions to increase the availability of testing for the novel coronavirus.
State officials have for weeks pointed to widespread coronavirus testing as an essential step in getting New Yorkers back to work and rebooting the economy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio explained that test kits are nearly impossible to source on the open market right now due to worldwide competition for them. Making matters more challenging, he added that New York City has not been able to get a "straight answer" or a "consistent approach" from the White House.
But recently there were two breakthroughs for NYC.
"For the first time we're going to have a truly reliable, major source of testing," de Blasio reported at a Tuesday morning news conference. "And I'm so proud of my fellow New Yorkers. I'm so proud of the people in the companies who are helping us, so proud of the people in my administration who put together this plan. A lot of folks would have said it's impossible; they're making this possible, and that's what New Yorkers do."
Indiana biotech firm Aria Diagnostics, which previously donated 50,000 test kits to the city, is now producing them regularly for New York. De Blasio says the city will purchase 50,000 test kits per week from Aria.
The city is also partnering with local academic and commercial laboratories and manufacturers to produce an additional 50,000 test kits per week in NYC. That production will launch in a few weeks at the beginning of May.
"We'll have 100,000 test kits per week that New York City can rely on," the mayor said. "400,000 per month, and that's just the beginning."
Additional testing combined with continued adherence to social distancing will "open the door to getting out of this horrible crisis," he added.
There was more positive news. New York has "supercharged" its solutions for the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), like face masks, face shields and surgical gowns to the point of becoming nearly self-sufficient with production.
The operations producing face shields, gowns and coronavirus tests are all brand new to the city since the crisis began. De Blasio applauded New York's ability to build up new industries in a matter of months.
He emphasized that what New York has been able to do locally doesn't let the federal government "off the hook" for its slow response to the crisis. De Blasio concluded that the strides in PPE production and coronavirus testing will help "make up for all the mistakes made by our federal government. It's very powerful and very exciting."
As of Tuesday morning, the state reported 195,031 positive tests and over 10,000 COVID-19 deaths. There were 106,763 positive tests in NYC, along with 7,349 deaths.
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