Written by Nick Reisman for Spectrum News on April 6, 2020

More tests for COVID-19 are needed for the state’s North Country region, Rep. Elise Stefanik on Monday said.

Stefanik pointed to the state Department of Health’s coronavirus tracker that shows counties in her sprawling district, which runs from the northern Albany suburbs to the Canadian border have received 1.67 percent of the total tests statewide.

“As Governor Cuomo continues to discuss shifting scarce Upstate resources to Downstate, such as PPE and ventilators, we need an immediate surge in testing capabilities Upstate – specifically in the North Country,” Stefanik said. “The current population of our counties has increased because of the absorption of seasonal residents. We need more accurate data to drive the State’s decision making for resource spread, and that starts with a greater share of testing in the North Country.”

Data released by the governor’s office in recent days has shown the vast majority of confirmed cases, as well as hospitalizations for the virus, have been in the New York City metropolitan region. At the same time, the state announced a new by-appointment drive-through testing site on the SUNY Albany campus opened on Monday for patients who are in the vulnerable category.

An executive order being issued by Cuomo will move 20 percent of the unused ventilators from hospitals to areas where there are a high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. But the concern for upstate officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, is the relative thin ice rural health care networks are facing with the pandemic.

“I have worked with our counties to request additional testing materials as the State continues to make the decisions about where tests are deployed,” Stefanik said. “The current testing percentage in the North Country is unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately.”

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