New York, the epicenter of the US Covid-19 outbreak, will allow pharmacies to carry out tests for the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo says.
He said some 5,000 pharmacies would be able to carry out testing, with the aim to provide 40,000 per day.
As of April 25, the US has more than 938,000 confirmed cases. Almost a third of the 53,751 deaths happened in New York City alone.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump did not hold his daily briefing, saying it was not worth his “time or effort”.
Speaking on Twitter on April 25, the president blamed the media for asking “nothing but hostile questions”. Donald Trump was heavily criticized after suggesting at the previous White House news conference that injecting disinfectant could potentially be used as a treatment for the virus.
The president’s remarks have been condemned as dangerous by doctors and manufacturers, as disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested.
In NYC, calls to the hotline for exposure to certain household chemicals more than doubled in the 18 hours after President Trump’s remarks – 30 cases compared to 13 for the same time frame last year.
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President Trump’s tweet appears to confirm reports that the conferences may be coming to an end because polls suggest they have not bolstered his popularity among voters.
On April 24, his briefing was unusually short – lasting just over 20 minutes – and he took no questions from the media.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on April 25 that antibody screenings would be expanded at four hospitals, beginning with frontline medical workers.
He also said independent pharmacies would be allowed to collect samples for diagnostic tests.
It is part of a drive to find out how widely the virus has spread across the state of 20 million people.
He said: “Twenty-one days of hell, and now we are back to where we were 21 days ago. Testing is what we are compulsively or obsessively focused on now.”
New York healthcare staff and essential workers – such as police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and shop assistants – would be able to get tests even if they did not have any symptoms of infection, he said.
According to Governor Cuomo, this was important not just for their own safety but also to protect the public.