Gov. Cuomo briefing May 17
Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office
Dr. Elizabeth Dufort, director of the state Health Department's epidemiology division, gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo a COVID-19 diagnostic swab test during Sunday afternoon's pandemic briefing in the state Capitol.

ALBANY — Any person who expects to return to the workplace in Phase I of reopening is eligible, and encouraged, to be tested for COVID-19, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday.

New York’s diagnostic COVID-19 daily testing capacity is 40,000, Gov. Cuomo announced. The state doubled its capacity since the governor’s April 21 meeting with President Donald J. Trump, and is up from 6,000 daily tests on March 13 at the start of the crisis.

More New Yorkers must get tested as the state starts to reopen.

“We’re double the national average,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Testing originally was used to control the virus. Now, testing will be used to monitor the virus.”

New York has more than 700 coronavirus testing sites statewide. Several drive-through testing sites can test up to 15,000 people each day, but only test 5,000. The state will partner with more than 60 CVS pharmacies across New York to conduct 50 or more tests each day.

Gov. Cuomo received a diagnostic COVID-19 swab test up his nasal cavity during Sunday’s briefing to demonstrate the test’s simplicity, he said, and encourage all New Yorkers to get one.

“This test is not an invasive test,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There is no pain to this test. There is nothing about this test that should intimidate people.

“If I’m not here tomorrow, it means I tested positive,” he joked.

COVID-19 tests are free for all New Yorkers. To see if you are eligible to be tested, or schedule a testing appointment, visit

New York’s COVID-19 fatalities reached 21,889 on Sunday — up from 21,750 on Saturday. Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s online COVID-19 tracker, which includes probable virus deaths in its tally, listed the state’s virus death toll as 28,049 on Sunday afternoon.

The state saw 139 virus-related deaths Saturday, including 106 in hospitals and 33 in nursing homes. The state’s death rate from the virus remains flat after totaling 157 fatalities Friday, 132 on Thursday and 157 on Wednesday.

The state tested 1,413,396 people by Saturday, revealing 350,121 total positive cases of COVID-19. New York’s hospitalization rates continued a downward trend to 6,220 patients Sunday, down 323 overnight, according to the governor’s office.

Just over 370 new virus patients entered hospitals statewide Saturday — a dip from this week’s daily average of 400 and an average of about 600 last week.

“We’re right about where we were when we started,” Gov. Cuomo said referring to March hospitalization rates. “We never want to go back.”

The state plans to release guidelines for summer camps before the end of June. Officials are taking their time to make a decision, they said Sunday, as state and national medical personnel continue to study more than 120 reported cases of virus complications in New York children causing inflammation of blood vessels and extremities, mimicking symptoms similar to severe illnesses such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome after initial reports that the virus does not primarily affect children.

“We need to make sure we don’t do anything to harm any of these children,” state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker said. “We have more than 120 cases here. If you look across the country, it’s past 200.”

The Capital District and Western New York can start reopening once officials finalize contact tracing, Gov. Cuomo said.

The Capital Region reached six of the state’s seven reopening criteria as of Sunday afternoon regarding an area’s coronavirus infection and death rates, available hospital beds, testing and tracing capacity. The region can start reopening once it has 383 total contact tracers, but needs to hire 166 more, Gov. Cuomo said. Western New York needs to hire 352 tracers to reach its required 521.

“That is purely an administrative function,” he said. “That’s the only function that has to be performed for those regions to reopen. We will talk to regional heads today (Sunday).”

The north country, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regions resumed construction, manufacturing and curbside or in-store pickup retail industries under Phase I of the state’s four-phase reopening plan.

Gov. Cuomo pleaded with New Yorkers to use available mental health resources after a recent study by San Diego and Florida state universities that showed about 38 percent of Americans ages 18 to 44 reported serious mental distress from the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Yorkers needing to speak with a mental health professional or other services should call the state’s emotional support hotline at 1-844-863-9314. Additional resources are available at

“This is hell. How are you when you’re going through hell? Not good,” the governor said. “This is nothing to be ashamed of ever in life. Not ever, but especially not now.”

For more information and to take a simple mental health evaluation, visit

Sunday marked day 78 since the state’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.

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