State Senator calls attention to urban-rural divide in COVID test availability

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A Republican Senator who represents part of the Greater-Rochester Finger Lakes area has a problem with the way Gov. Kathy Hochul is handling the rollout of at-home COVID-19 tests.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R, 62) spoke out Thursday, saying he thinks it’s ridiculous how cities and more populated areas have almost too many testing kits, while people in more rural areas are struggling to get their hands on some.

He said he believes the state needs to use more of its $4 billion budget surplus to buy more tests.

"Making testing widely available and the fact that we have not been able to do that here in New York,” Ortt said. “We’ve not been able to do that, and we are two years into this pandemic. This is not new. It’s almost hard for me to believe that here we are at this point in the pandemic, and here we are still talking about a lack of available testing."

New York State has started shipping some tests for public distribution in more rural counties.

Thursday, officials in targeted ZIP codes with low vaccination and high positivity rates in Livingston County gave out tests and masks to those who needed them.

Livingston County said that it is planning more COVID-19 test kits and KN95 mask distribution events, but the dates, times and locations of the events will be dependent on when the county gets the testing kits from the state.

An event is tentatively planned for Jan. 8, but is subject to change. Click here for the latest information.