NYS to distribute more free COVID test kits


New York State will distribute more than 20 million at-home COVID tests this spring — including more than 1.7 million to New York City public housing tenants — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.

At a news conference in Yonkers, Hochul unveiled plans to significantly increase distribution of the state’s stockpile of at-home tests, with a particular focus on schools and public housing.

“Let’s get those in people’s hands,” Hochul said. “If there’s any warning signs, anyone’s concerned – that they can get that test immediately.”

The biggest share – 1 million tests every other week through the end of the academic year – will be reserved for schools outside New York City. The city’s school system already has an adequate reserve to get it through the school year, according to Hochul’s office.

Another 1.74 million will go to the New York City Housing Authority — enough for four tests per household, according to the state.

All told, the state had acquired about 90 million at-home tests in recent months amid a purchasing frenzy spurred in part by the rise of the omicron variant.

Of those, Hochul’s office said about 50 million had been distributed before this latest push, including about 30 million that went to schools. The remaining 20 million will be kept in reserve as a precaution, Hochul said.

Of the 20 million tests going out this spring, 500,000 will be reserved for food banks and senior centers that request them. The state will also lean on local leaders and state legislators to distribute some of the remaining tests, Hochul said.

Hochul’s announcement came as the state reported about 1,900 average daily positive cases for the week that ended Tuesday, according to Department of Health data. That number has ticked up slightly in recent days, though it’s far below the peak of the omicron wave in January, when the state averaged more than 70,000 cases a day.

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