Gov. Cuomo announces plan to start ‘most aggressive’ antibody testing of New Yorkers to see just how widely the coronavirus has spread

A scientist presents an antibody test for coronavirus.

Associated Press

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that the state is set to roll out antibody testing to survey the state’s population and determine how many people have been exposed to the novel coronavirus. 

The plan comes as New York has seen hospitalization rates fall in recent days. 

There were 507 deaths related to COVID-19 reported in New York on Saturday, 33 of which occurred in nursing homes, down from 540 on Friday. 

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New York is set to start statewide antibody testing, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday. 

The testing will serve as a “baseline” to see how many people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, Cuomo said.

The test will draw from a random sample of people, and the state currently has the ability to run 2,000 tests per day, 14,000 a week. Cuomo said he anticipates it’ll be the “largest survey of any state population that’s been done.” On Twitter, the governor called it the “most aggressive” statewide antibody testing survey in the nation. 

Knowing how many people have been infected with the novel coronavirus will be key to allowing Americans to go back to work and lessening social distancing measures meant to suppress the spread of the virus.

To pull off the widespread testing, however, Cuomo said the state will need support from the national government to ensure supplies needed to perform the tests are available. 

The move to begin antibody testing is happening at a time when hospitalization rates related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are down. As of Saturday, 16,213 people in the state were hospitalized.

“If the data holds and if this trend holds, we are past the high point and all indications at this pot are that we’re on a descent,” Cuomo said. “Whether or not that continues depends on what we do.” 

There were 507 deaths related to COVID-19 reported in New York on Saturday, 33 of which occurred in nursing homes, down from 540 on Friday. 

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Read more: Tests that can tell if you’re immune to the coronavirus are on the way. Here are the companies racing to bring them to the US healthcare system.

Here are some of the other takeaways from Cuomo’s daily briefing: 

New York has slowed the rate of transmission so that every 10 people are infecting 9 people. But that leaves only a “small margin of error,” Cuomo said. Should that number get up to every 10 people infecting 12 people, the outbreak is back to being “out of control,” he said. 

While the rate of hospitalizations is down, on Saturday, an additional 1,384 people were admitted into hospitals in New York. 

Nursing homes remain the top concern, Cuomo said. “The nursing home is the optimum feeding ground for this virus,” he said. Cuomo noted that the state had “disturbing situations” in nursing homes. 

The state plans to help out and pass along supplies to other states in need as they tackle the outbreak. Cuomo noted that Massachusetts might need 400 ventilators. He said the state’s identified 400 ventilators will send them on a day’s notice when needed. 

The state is looking for federal assistance. Nationally, the National Governors Association has asked for $500 billion from the national government.

Cuomo said he’s been fielding questions about whether cities should reopen schools and public places like beaches. He said he advises local officials to blame him for not opening back up. “It’s true, it’s right, it’s the state law, and I don’t have any issue with that,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo also spoke about his plans to have a Sunday dinner, complete with spaghetti and meatballs, now that his three daughters are home as part of the quarantine. One of his daughters, Maria Kennedy Cuomo, joined him at the press conference Sunday. Her boyfriend has come to stay with the family as well. “We like the boyfriend,” Cuomo said. 

Following up on an executive order Saturday that allowed clerks to perform marriages online, on Sunday, the governor is expected to sign an executive order allowing anyone licensed to perform a marriage to be able to do so online. Cuomo noted that he’s gotten the “most amount of grief” from his decisions to let marriages be performed online. 

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