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Long Island News

New York State increases COVID-19 test availability amid an uptick in pediatric hospitalizations

Governor Kathy Hochul holds a briefing on state’s progress combating COVID-19 on December 27, 2021.
Don Pollard
/
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Kathy Hochul holds a briefing on state’s progress combating COVID-19 on December 27.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said 13 new COVID test centers will open this week amid high demand and reports of long wait times at clinics. The move comes as the state has documented an uptick in pediatric hospital admissions in the New York City area.

Two of the new test sites are on Long Island — at the Kennedy Memorial Park in Hempstead and the IBEW Local 25 in Hauppauge. Hochul said increasing test availability is part of the state’s overall plan to combat the winter surge.

“We have ordered and have started to receive 37 million testing kits which are critically important to make sure that people can ensure that they’re safe before they gather with individuals or go to their job,” Hochul said at a news conference.

Tests will be free, but appointments must be scheduled through an online portal run by BioReference Laboratories.

The increased test availability comes as acting health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett noted an uptick in pediatric hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated 5- to 11-year-olds. She tied the surge to a “disappointingly low” vaccination rate among that age group — only 16.4%.

“We want pediatricians to be alert to making the diagnosis of COVID in children,” Bassett said at a news conference. “And we also want parents to be alert to the diagnosis. Many people thought — continue to think — that children don’t become infected with COVID. This is not true. Children become infected, and some will be hospitalized.”

Bassett and Hochul urged parents to take advantage of the winter break from school to get their kids vaccinated.