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Cuomo demands private lab testing for coronavirus as N.Y. cases rise to 105

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday challenged the federal government to authorize private labs to perform COVID-19 testing, insisting New York health officials could process up to 2,000 new cases every day with new and expanded capacities.

The governor also said officials now peg the total cases in New York at 105, up 16 since Saturday. Two of those cases are reported in Saratoga County, he said, in an indication that the disease has made its initial upstate appearance.

[Related: Uptick in coronavirus cases leads to a state of emergency for New York]

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family, related to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

Cuomo appeared at Northwell Health Imaging in Nassau County to further lambaste the Trump administration and its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for failing to provide more testing of potential cases of the disease that has spread around the world from its origin in China.

“We need more help from the federal government and the CDC ... they were not ready for this and should have been ready for this,” he said during a morning news conference.

The governor reiterated his request for state laboratories to become involved and test more potential cases, but said real progress could be noted if Northwell and at least six other private labs throughout New York were also allowed to participate. He called Northwell the “most sophisticated” lab in the state, and that testing could be expanded “exponentially” if it and other private facilities gain authorization.

“Not to be using this lab and other potential labs around the state makes no sense whatsoever,” he said. “It’s one thing for the CDC not to have testing capacity, but it’s another for the CDC not to authorize existing labs to do the work. There’s no excuse for that.”

Cuomo noted an element of confusion stemming from Washington as President Trump says anyone can request and receive a virus test, while Vice President Pence – his point man on the health crisis response – says testing is not available to all.

The governor noted that more testing would allow health officials to “prioritize” treatment for those in need.

“The more tests we run, the more positive people we are finding, the better we can do containment,” he said.

Cuomo again said officials are making the best possible efforts to contain the sickness.

“The biggest problem is fear,” he said. “It’s not the virus, it’s the fear. And the fear is just unwarranted.”

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