Cuomo: New York has enough tests, but not enough people are getting them

The governor publicly submitted to a coronavirus swab as a demonstration

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo
(Stefani Reynolds/Getty)
Last Updated:
May 19, 2020 - 2:23pm

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledges that his state is now facing the problem not of coronavirus test shortages but rather a shortage of New Yorkers willing to get them. 

Testing capacity has been a critical focal point of the coronavirus pandemic since the virus arrived in the U.S. perhaps as early as January. The country has significantly ramped up testing in the intervening months and has now performed nearly 12.5 million tests, the most in the world and nearly double that of the next-most-prolific country, Russia, according to the data website Worldometers

New York, which for months has been the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has done the most testing out of any state, with over 1.4 million tests as of Tuesday afternoon. Yet Cuomo on Sunday said the state is not using its full testing capacity, with many New Yorkers apparently feeling unmotivated to submit to the nasal-swab procedure. 

Though the state is conducting 40,000 tests at over 700 sites, "the new problem is we have more sites and more testing capacity than we’re using," the governor said at a press conference. "We just don’t have enough New Yorkers coming to be tested." 

The shortage of test-takers could point to the waning pandemic in New York, which has been under a strict statewide lockdown for months. Fewer New Yorkers getting sick would likely translate to fewer tests getting taken. Cuomo also said this week that the state's hospitalizations and intubations are all on a downward trend. 

Residents may be wary of the test itself, which involves a cotton swab inserted deep into the nostrils. Cuomo himself demonstrated the procedure at the press conference, with the swab being performed by a doctor in full protective gear. 

"I'm not in pain, I'm not in discomfort," he said. "There is no reason why you should not get the test."