In response to a surge in COVID-19 cases and in order to continue the county’s proactive response to the pandemic, County Executive Pat Ryan today announced the county’s new mobile rapid response team including a rapid mobile testing vehicle. The new rapid testing capability will bolster Ulster County’s rapid response plan. The bus, equipped with four rapid testing machines and staffed by public health nurses, will be dispatched to high-risk locations identified as potential clusters in order to screen out positives as quickly as possible.
Last month, Ulster County Executive Ryan announced that Ulster County was eligible to receive rapid testing machines and test kits. The County Health Department has received four rapid testing machines and a limited number of test kits from the New York State Department of Health. These kits will primarily be employed to assist school districts, congregate care facilities, and other identified clusters and at this time, will not be available to the general public due to limited supplies. The rapid testing devices will be able to run eight tests per hour and the results should come back within 30 minutes.
“This new rapid testing capability will help slow the spread of COVID-19 by expanding our ability to reach and identify potential clusters while also improving our turnaround time, allowing us to instantly test key facilities and populations,” Ryan said. “I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Health for providing crucial support and resources to make rapid testing a reality and for their partnership in keeping Ulster County residents healthy and safe.”
To support New York’s testing efforts, the New York State Department of Health is now providing a limited basis point of care testing instruments for the virus that causes COVID-19 to local health departments who can demonstrate a plan for their equitable use. Both Abbott BinaxNOW and Abbott ID NOW test cards and machines and test kits are available to local health departments as supply permits. Materials will be provided at no cost so long as testing is open to the public, offered free of charge, and prioritizes vulnerable and at-risk populations that may not currently have equitable access to testing.
Additionally, on Saturday, Ryan convened a call with county and municipal leaders where he updated them on the evolving COVID-19 situation in Ulster County and urged them to make preparations and to continue to enforce COVID-19 precautions. Last week, County Executive Ryan stated that Ulster County is seeing the beginnings of a second wave in Ulster County and called upon all residents to take the sudden rise in positive cases seriously. As hospitalization rates and active cases rise to levels not seen since early summer, County Executive Ryan urged residents to adhere to health precautions like social distancing and wearing a mask.
Since early October, Ulster County has seen a consistent uptick in cases and hospitalizations. Ulster County’s hospitalization rate is at the highest it has been since early May, and active case rates are at the highest point since mid-June.
Residents can find information about their nearest testing location and both walk-in testing sites and mobile testing sites by visiting covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/covid19-testing/.