First responders in Suffolk County now have access to six new, exclusive COVID-19 testing sites throughout the county.
The sites – located in Brookhaven and Islip towns, among others – will provide rapid tests for local fire service and law enforcement, emergency medical service providers, and soon, county law enforcement, Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone announced Dec. 10.
Testing will be conducted by Suffolk County Departments of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, Department of Health Services and Division of Emergency Medical Services and will take place on weekends.
The service will operate from Saturday, Dec. 12 to Dec. 27. Eligible first responders are able to sign up for an appointment through a reservation-based mobile system on the county’s Rave Mobile Safety Platform.
The location of the sites was not immediately available. Testing site locations and times will be provided to first responders upon the confirmation of their appointments, which are required. Those who suspect that they have recently been exposed to virus or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will receive priority.
“While we await the arrival of a vaccine, we know that testing is one of our most valuable tools in combating this virus,” Bellone said.
On Dec. 11, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the New York State Clinical Advisory Task Force had unanimously approved the United States Food and Drug Administration’s decision to proceed with the vaccine.
At that time, Cuomo said New York expects to receive 346,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 21. The doses add to 170,000 already expected from Pfizer.
An ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, N.Y., received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Dec. 14.
Cuomo, who was virtually present during the vaccination, said an estimated 75 to 85 percent of Americans must take the vaccine for it to be effective.
“So, every American has to do their part… it's going to take months before the vaccine hits critical mass,” Cuomo said Monday.
Suffolk County hit a 6.2 percent weekly positivity rate in coronavirus cases, according to Dec. 12 data from the county. Approximately 5.8 percent of those tested on Long Island were positive for the virus.
“What we have witnessed over the last couple of weeks, in the middle of the holiday season, is that the cases are spiking,” Bellone said at a Dec. 8 press conference. “And we are in that second wave that we talked about from the very beginning.”