MANHATTAN (CN) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday the Big Apple has arranged for a consistent supply of Covid-19 diagnostic tests as infections appear to be plateauing and the complex process of reopening the economy takes gradual and uncertain shape.
“I'm sure New Yorkers wouldn’t have thought that the cavalry would come from ... Indiana, but it has,” de Blasio said Tuesday. “That's going to be a big piece of the solution going forward. I want to be clear, because to really get to that point where there's no more transmission, we're going to need a huge number of test kits.”
Test components include nasal swabs, tubes, and a viral transport medium — a chemical solution that stabilizes the virus sample. The mayor said Aria Diagnostics in Indiana will donate an initial 50,000 tests to New York City and then selling them to the city each week, 50,000 tests at a time, starting April 20. The mayor did not say how much the city will pay for the testing kits, and his office did not immediately return a follow-up request.
De Blasio also said that in May the city itself will launch the production of an additional 50,000 test kits per week. Though he would not share the names of the New York companies or institutions involved Tuesday morning, he said academic and commercial labs would create the viral-transport medium and that local manufacturers and 3D printers would make swabs and tubes.
Cities and states hoping to contain the virus in the coming months will also need to have extensive contact tracing efforts in place, and staff trained to do that work.
Another challenge the city faces is providing testing sites for the majority of its residents who do not own cars. Drive-through testing sites have popped up throughout the nation, but New York will have to provide testing sites that people can walk to.
The Covid-19 numbers for New York City announced Tuesday morning had infections slightly up. There is a two-day delay on the data, and the city released an update Tuesday afternoon showing that 10,367 people had died of coronavirus in five boroughs. That figure included an additional 3,778 people who were presumed to have died of the virus — be it at home or in a hospitals, nursing home or some other place — but did not test positive.
The city’s Health Department had been collecting the additional death data for weeks, The New York Times reported, and the new numbers cover approximately the past month, beginning March 11. The city will continue to report only confirmed cases to the Centers for Disease Control.
Statewide, the numbers appear to be plateauing, with between 18,500 and 18,900 total hospitalizations per day for the last five days. On Monday, 778 deaths were reported. The state broke 200,000 confirmed cases, with 202,208 total and 10,834 deaths, according to Gothamist.
New York City and state report different totals for city deaths. On Tuesday, the city said there had been 6,589 deaths in the Big Apple, while the state’s count showed 7,349 as of Monday.
In his own daily briefing from the capital on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is only getting 60,000 tests per month from private companies, not nearly enough. He cast some doubt on the projected New York City test numbers.
The limited number of private companies that manufacture these testing kits in the U.S., he said, will be inundated with requests from all 50 states and have limited production capability. Cuomo called on the federal government to take the lead in purchasing the kits.
“Let FEMA do the testing,” he said, later adding: “Why am I now competing for private testing capacity and private testing machines with Illinois and California? I want to get out of the eBay competition business for vital medical equipment and now vital testing. I would say to the president, ‘You take it. God bless you.’”