Albany, New York (WIVB) – After weeks of warning with the announcement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday during his state of the state speech that he wanted to use the COVID-19 test as a tool to reopen the economy.
“Why can’t we use the Rapid Test to open restaurants in orange areas, theaters, and offices?” Como asked. “There are a lot of options.”
The state tested its strategy at Bills Stadium last week, when about 7,000 people tested, using PCR testing, ahead of the Bills Wild Card vs Colts game. This resulted in a positive rate of 1.9%, which is well below the regional and statewide average. Cuomo says early indications are that the event was a success. The pilot will be used again this week prior to the Bills vs Ravens match.
“I think everyone working in this field was surprised that (the positivity rate) was so low,” said Dr. John Cohen, CEO of BioReference Laboratories, which conducted the test. “There is a lot of speculation about why this is. But the truth is, I have nothing that anyone has an answer.”
The governor said the state will work to open hundreds of pop-up rapid test sites statewide, and that he hopes to reopen office buildings safe from COVID and bring back the arts. In light of Como’s plan, Cohen says BioReference is ready to do “a large number of scanning programs at scale”.
He added, “However, it is not just about the number of performances.” “What you need to do is discover a custom solution.”
“I can’t have 30 push cars in midtown Manhattan until someone can go to the theater,” Cohen continued. “This means that the solution will be different from the fan test for a large square.”
In Buffalo, officials at the Chia Performing Arts Center say the governor’s plan will provide an important boost.
“Shea’s excited to participate in every way possible. Arts are an important economic generator not just for our society, but for the entire nation. Michael Murphy, President of Shea, said I appreciate that the governor continues to support the arts and will use the arts as a key component of his plans to reimagine New York State as we emerge from COVID in the coming months.
At the Kleinhans, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra officials say they keep a close eye on and learn what is going on at Bills Stadium and other concert halls across the country.
Chris Horvatitz is an award-winning broadcaster and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work Here.