Cuomo Asks Trump for Help in Ramping Up Antibody Testing
by Dan Clark • Published on April 10, 2020 • 0 Comments
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Friday, April 10, 2020.
Credit: Dan Clark
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking President Donald Trump, again, to invoke a federal law to ramp up a new test that has the potential to allow millions of New York residents to re-enter society by identifying which individuals have likely developed an immunity to COVID-19.
The test was developed in recent weeks by the state Department of Health as a way to test for COVID-19 antibodies, which would indicate someone has recovered from the disease.
But, as of now, the agency only has the capacity to administer 300 of those tests each day. By next week, that number could more than triple, but Cuomo said that still won’t be enough to get New Yorkers back to work.
“Even with our high capacity and high performance on testing, it’s still not enough,” Cuomo said. “It’s not enough if you want to reopen on a meaningful scale and you want to reopen quickly.”
Cuomo said that, aside from the agency’s bandwidth, the resources just aren’t available to ramp up testing for antibodies in New York. Certain reagents and materials are required, which the state doesn’t have, he said.
That’s where Trump comes in. Cuomo wants Trump to use what’s called the Defense Production Act to form a partnership between private companies and the federal government. That could lead to a spike in antibody testing, Cuomo said.
“It’s harder than it sounds. You need certain reagents so you can do the testing, you need certain material so you can do the testing,” Cuomo said. “And it’s very hard to get these reagents.”
Cuomo wants the ability to perform millions of those tests in a short period of time, rather than the thousands the state will be able to complete by next week.
That, coupled with a continued positive trend in the number of hospitalizations from the disease, will allow society to return to some version of normal sooner than projected, Cuomo said.
His call came on the tail of good news Friday: the net number of people admitted to the intensive care unit in New York went down for the first time in at least three weeks, with a net 17 fewer people than were reported Thursday.
The net increase in the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 climbed slightly on Friday, but the three-day average continued to fall, meaning the trend appears to be headed in the right direction, even if it varies each day.
The total number of people hospitalized from the disease reached 18,569 on Friday, with 4,908 people in the intensive care unit. A total of 1,952 people were discharged between Thursday and Friday, bringing the total number of discharges to 20,249.
“Right now we’re okay,” Cuomo said Friday of the number of beds and ventilators available to treat patients affiliated with the disease.
The total number of positive cases in New York reached 170,512 on Friday, with 92,384 of those cases in New York City. A total of 7,844 people have died from the disease in New York, according to state data.