Hochul: Millions of take-home COVID-19 tests going to schools

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul says New York State has 37 million free take-home COVID-19 tests and 5 million of those will be available by the end of the year.

Most are going to schools, but during her COVID-19 update Wednesday Hochul said 2 million tests will be in the hands of school district leaders across the state before Jan. 3, when school starts.

The goal is to keep schools open and students with no symptoms in school.

The free COVID tests are also going to all counties, so unlike the tests that Monroe County handed out earlier this month, residents of surrounding counties will get them too.

"Luckily we had the foresight here in the state of New York to order a huge supply and they continue to keep coming in so we should not see shortages of testing kits and we’re going to continue to get them out to as many places as we can," Hochul said.

A lot of parents are still wondering if the governor will mandate a vaccine for students and staff at schools, but Hochul does not have the authority to do that.

It would have to be passed by the State Legislature, and the soonest that could happen is next fall, but Hochul says she would not rule it out.

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In Fairport Wednesday night, the school district was already handing out at-home COVID tests. Just like in Hilton Tuesday, students and families are being given the tests so that kids can take them before returning to school in January.

News10NBC’s Charles Molineaux spoke with some of the families who were picking up free tests at Fairport High School.

"I have two parents that are older, in their 80s, and my mother-in-law, so, and they have health conditions," said Elizabeth Wagner. "We are all vaccinated, and boosted. But, it’s good to know."

Deborah Miles added, "people want them. It just gives people peace of mind. To let them know. There are a lot of other things going on out there with cold systems and RSV and other things like that. So, this helps them determine what we really have at home right now. Do you have a common cold or do you have COVID? It helps to make decisions about what to do next."

Watch Hochul’s full briefing in the video in the player below (mobile users, click here):

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