Cuomo swabbed on live TV to encourage New Yorkers to get tested for COVID-19

Governor Andrew Cuomo took a COVID-19 swab test live during his May 17, 2020 press conference in Albany. (Photo courtesy of Governor's Office)

Almost 80 days into the pandemic, the tune has changed for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who once told New Yorkers to refrain from seeking COVID-19 testing due to a shortage. Now the governor says residents should get tested, as access appears to be close to redundancy levels.

As such, Cuomo illustrated how quickly the test can be administered by getting a nasal swab live during his Sunday morning press conference.

“You don’t even have to be New York tough to take that test,” Cuomo said without even a wince.

Displays of macho flexing aside, Cuomo reported that the state is in a good place with the number of hospitalizations and deaths as well as five upstate regions now reopening; 139 people died from COVID-19 complications on May 16, a continued downward trend from 195 on May 11.

According to the Cuomo administration, over 7.1% of the state’s population has been tested as per a goal set in early March to conduct 6,000 tests per day. This ballooned to 20,000 tests per day with help from the federal government, which turned into 40,000 tests as of May 17.

“Testing originally was used to control the virus, now testing is going to be very helpful in monitoring the virus,” Cuomo said. “Not only do we have a large capacity to process the tests, we also put together a network of test sites all across the state… We now have 700 testing sites… which means there’s a testing site near you, so many sites that it doesn’t fit on a map.”

At the city level, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday morning that 20,000 people per day were being tested through a partnership with CityMD, which will cover the cost for individuals without health coverage.

But drive-through sites are able to process 15,000 per day without doing more than 5,000 on average, according to the state.

“The new problem is we have more sites and more testing capacity than we’re using,” Cuomo added. “Anyone who thinks they have COVID symptoms can get tested, so it’s a tremendously large universe of people who can be tested.”

The overabundance of hospital beds and testing capacity are “good problems” for the state to have during the pandemic, Cuomo asserted.


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