Mobile test sites being deployed to NY farms after coronavirus outbreaks

The Bobster

Senior News Editor since 2004

Mobile test sites being deployed to NY farms after coronavirus outbreaks
By Bernadette Hogan and Natalie Musumeci
August 14, 2020 | 6:44pm

Mobile testing sites are being dispatched to rural areas across New York after several new coronavirus “clusters” were identified at farms that employ seasonal workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

“We’re seeing several clusters, several outbreak at farms basically from the workers, and we’re dispatching mobile testing sites,” Cuomo during reporters during a press briefing via a conference call.

The clusters have been due to the higher number of workers in close proximity since farms and food production facilities have remained open as essential businesses.

The state’s COVID-19 contact tracing program discovered an outbreak at a farm in Oneida County, an apple packaging plant in Oswego County and an aluminum factory in Montgomery County, among others.

The mobile testing centers are being sent by the state Department of Health and Department of Agriculture and Markets, which is assisting with access to isolation housing where needed for workers who test positive.

The New York Farm Bureau touted the move as the state’s farms approach the fall harvest season.

“More accessible testing and additional housing support for incoming guest workers will better protect farm employees who are already working on farms as well as help to prevent the spread of the virus,” the organization said.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew CuomoJames Messerschmidt

The bureau added, “An outbreak could dramatically impact a farm’s harvest. Not only would this be a health risk for the employees, but it could also mean less food production and a hit to the farm’s bottom-line if they do not have the labor or harvested product to sell.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo on Friday announced other new initiatives related to COVID-19 testing that will help the state’s ability to detect and control the virus in communities across the state.

Among them is the launch of a pilot program aimed to detect the virus in wastewater. It’s designed to establish an early indicator system to forecast virus spread in communities.

The governor also announced that the State University of New York has been approved by the state Department of Health to undertake pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19 – a method where numerous samples can be run as part of one test.

SUNY Upstate Medical University will be able to conduct at least 12,000 more daily tests as a result of the new approach.