City of Rochester pushing to get people to get COVID-19 tests

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The City of Rochester cranked up its push to get people to test themselves for coronavirus at a crucial time.

On Thursday, Mayor James Smith announced the city had received 100,000 home COVID-19 tests from Monroe County and would be distributing them as Christmas approached.

"You could’ve blown me over with a feather. I would never have suspected that I had COVID,” Smith exclaimed.

He said positive results of his own home coronavirus test forced him into rapid changes for his Thanksgiving plans when he discovered he had the virus.

And while his symptoms were mild, he says it’s crucial for others to test too ahead of any family Christmas get-togethers.

"No one wants to go to Grandma’s for Christmas and potentially risk infecting her with COVID,” he warned.

The city and Monroe County are now directing the public toward home COVID test videos and 100,000 home test kits now available through the city.

This Saturday, the tests will be available at the Thomas Ryan and Adams Street R Centers from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and, importantly, they will be available free of charge.

“You can get test kids in drugstores etc.,” Smith observed. “But it comes at a price and I don’t want anyone who faces financial challenges to not be able to protect themselves, their circle, their family, their loved ones because they can’t afford or they can’t access these test kits.”

As the city and county encourage home COVID testing, the state is ramping it up too, concerned New York could be in for what Gov. Kathy Hochul said might become “a very challenging wintertime."

“We were very concerned that we have enough testing kits here in the state of New York,” she said. “We’ve ordered an additional 1 million test kits. They should be coming mid-next week. Will be getting those out of the counties. We want the county health departments to be ready for this.”

Smith said he hopes the city goes through all its 100,000 test kits and said he would be “thrilled” if they run out.

“Our region is one of the first to do this type of a large distribution of test kits,” he said. “And I think there’s going to be a trend around the country and you’re going to see more and more of it.”

The city planned to continue offering home test kits next Saturday, Dec. 18 at the Trenton and Pamela Jackson R-Center and next Sunday, Dec. 19 at the Edgerton R-Center.

Smith said the city is looking into other community sources like churches as additional places to distribute them.