NYS to distribute more free COVID test kits

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York’s COVID-19 case numbers are way down.

The state’s seven-day average positivity rate has been below 2% for almost two weeks, but Gov. Kathy Hochul is warning about another possible surge.

On Thursday, she announced steps she is taking to prevent it.

The solution? Something you probably have sitting in your kitchen cupboard right now: At-home COVID tests. A lot of us got them for free from the federal government or at community distribution events.

RELATED: Town of Webster giving out free COVID tests

More than 20 million COVID-19 over-the-counter tests will be distributed across the state through the Spring to bolster New York State’s ongoing preparedness efforts. These will go to nursing homes, adult care facilities, schools, NYCHA residences, senior centers, food banks, and elected officials for local communities.

More than 54 million tests have already been distributed throughout New York since the beginning of the year, including nearly 30 million tests to schools, 12.5 million tests to nursing homes and adult-care facilities, and more than 10 million tests to local officials for public distribution in their respective communities.

While our COVID numbers are great now, state officials are keeping an eye on what’s happening around the world specifically in the United Kingdom.

"We’re seeing an 82% increase in cases over there over the last few weeks," Hochul said. "We tend to be a few weeks behind those trends. But we do have surveillance techniques, which we’re using expansively across the state and we’re able to monitor 70% of our state population, literally through wastewater surveillance."

One million tests will go directly to schools outside of New York City every other week until the end of the school year. During winter break those free at-home COVID tests caught at least 15,000 positive cases among students and staff across the state. New York is also stockpiling another 20 million tests kits for next school year.

How can you get your hands on this new round of free tests? No details on that yet. Of course, News10NBC will let you know once we find out.