More than 20 million COVID-19 test kits are being stockpiled ahead of next school year, and New York State officials are monitoring wastewater to determine if there are peaks in COVID-19 cases across the state – a kind of early warning system that could give clues as to whether an increase in the virus is circulating in the population.
So far, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday, so far so good.
“We do not see that,” she said during a stop in Yonkers by a potential COVID-19 rise. “I want to be very clear. We are not seeing that right now.”
About 70% of the state can be monitored through wastewater testing, Hochul said.
“By using technology, we want an early warning before problems arise,” she said.
New York and most of the rest of the country have seen a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases over the last many weeks after the winter rise caused by the omicron variant of the virus. New York’s positive rate is 1.7% in the last 24 hours, and about 1,000 patients remain in the hospital, which are COVID-19 positive.
The decline in cases has allowed New York to ease the rules, such as wearing masks in most public spaces as well as inside schools.
But New York officials are also monitoring rising cases in Europe – the so-called “global trends” Hochul has said will determine whether pandemic-related restrictions should be imposed in the state.
“We are keeping an eye on and aware of what is happening in the UK,” she said. “We tend to be a few weeks behind these trends. We have monitoring techniques.”
The state will stock test kits for schools prior to September next year, when children and teachers return to classrooms. Mass access to testing has been seen as a key tool to keep businesses and schools open.