New rapid tests aimed at limiting COVID-19 spread during the holidays

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — 803 new COVID cases were reported in Monroe County Tuesday, and hospitals are filling up before the holidays. The State Department of Health says 494 people are hospitalized in the Finger Lakes Region with COVID-19, nearly 120 of those patients are in the ICU. 

County Executive Adam Bello said in addition to vaccinations, we have another tool to use to hopefully get some of the cases down. He says 750,000 at-home rapid tests are coming Wednesday, hoping people will be able to see if they’re COVID-positive before holiday gatherings.

“The main goal is to stabilize the hospitals,” Bello said. He says those numbers put a strain on the system. National Guard members are currently in-town to assist. 

“Hospitals are under an incredible amount of stress. And there’s a lot of patients who are in the hospital who need to come out. So, more help is always welcome,” he says.

Bello says with those 750,000 free rapid tests are arriving in the county, they could be a ticket to lowering COVID cases before Christmas.

“We are going to partner with municipalities, the towns, the City of Rochester, and with the school districts on distribution,” he says.

Those out tonight at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in the city, say they’re keeping plans close to home, but say they’ll still keep the Christmas spirit alive.

“Just spend time with family and enjoy the holiday best we can,” says Brandon Lewis.

“I just can’t wait to be home with my parents, my siblings, my pets…” says Eddie Bartnick.

“Because of COVID, we’re limiting how many family members can go, but it should be nice,” says Mylene Clark.

“With the vaccine, we’re a bit more comfortable,” says Danielle Goebel on her toned-down family plans.

Bello says going back to normal won’t happen until more people get vaccinated, and hospitals can clear out. To date, 82.5% of the county’s population has at least one dose of the vaccine. “We know that 80% of those who are in an ICU bed are unvaccinated,” he says.

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