Rural counties get COVID-19 rapid test kits

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ALBION, N.Y. (WHEC) — For people who live in Orleans and Genesee Counties, they’ve had to take long drives or wait weeks to get into official COVID-19 testing.

However, Wednesday Genesee Community College became a major hub for this region to get easier and quick access to testing.

When business owner and Genesee County resident Mike Werner learned he had a COVID positive member in his family, it was worth the drive to Albion.

“We didn’t really think about it too much until the scare came up,” Werner said. “That’s what really what raised awareness to it and when we tried to get testing quickly, we found that that there weren’t too many options and that’s why we drove about a half-hour up here to get the free test today.”

With the recent surge in cases, the governor picked Albion, not exactly a centralized spot for the finger lakes region.

“We don’t know why Albion was picked,” said Jack Welch, chief administrative officer for Orleans County. “Our numbers for vaccination rates are not extremely high; I think we’re close around 60%, and we don’t have a lot testing going, so I think it was a combination of the low vaccination rate and the low testing numbers to find out what’s truly going on in the community.”

The Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer says location is everything, especially given the limited number of testing sites.

“We would actually have to go to maybe Brockport, Monroe County or outside the county besides the few places we have here for testing,” Welch said.

Others experienced the lack of testing sites firsthand, like Cory Newton and Jonathan Deskins who live in the area.

“The closest testing site was Monroe County for me and it was quite a distance to travel living in Orleans so coming here was obviously much easier,” Newton said.

“I had tested before and that was at the Orleans Community Health Urgent Care, but outside of that I don’t know that there was much except for maybe Rite Aid,” Deskins said.

Residents in these counties say they’re happy to know that there’s more access, especially when COVID continues to spread.

“It means a lot to me. Now it’s going to be convenient for most people that need to get tested for work who may be showing symptoms, so it means quite a bit,” Newton added.

The testing site is located at the Genesee Community College. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.