CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - St. Lawrence County is in for a big increase in COVID-19 testing, which is going to be essential if the economy is to reopen.
About 3,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in St. Lawrence County. But those numbers could soar in coming weeks and months as the search for the virus broadens.
“Really to look for those asymptomatic individuals who have the acute infection and are contagious – but aren't aware they are contagious because they don't have symptoms,” said Dr. Andrew Williams, Canton-Potsdam Hospital associate chief medical officer.
Anyone in an essential industry who works with the public can now be tested. That includes healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers, teachers and many others.
“As much as we're concerned about the economy, we want to make sure any opening up is done safely," said Dr. Ashley Grimshaw, Canton-Potsdam Hospital primary care physician.
People can get tested at any of four drive-thru testing centers operated by St. Lawrence Health System. There are two testing clinics operated by Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.
The state's plans for reopening the economy are still fluid at best. Governor Andrew Cuomo has just appointed more than 100 business and community leaders to what he's calling the New York Forward Re-opening Advisory Committee.
The governor says the reopening can be done region by region. Medical providers say with expanded testing it can be done – but cautiously.
“Expanded testing is a critical tool for us to safely reopen. I think if we were to attempt to reopen without expanded testing it would be tragic. The consequences would be immense and irreversible,” said Dr. Williams.
Anyone seeking testing should call St. Lawrence Health System or Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center ahead. A testing appointment will then be arranged.
Call the hotline numbers below between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. if you have symptoms or feel you should be tested:
- St. Lawrence Health System: 315-261-6240
- Claxton Hepburn Medical Center: 315-713-6655
- Clifton-Fine Hospital: 315-848-8049
- St. Lawrence County Public Health Department: 315-229-3448