WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The state will be picking up the tab on some COVID-19 tests in the north country. The news comes as a new wave of workers are being required to get a test in Phase 3.
Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray has been lobbying for a state COVID-19 testing site in the north country
Barbers and hairstylists were required to get a test every two weeks as part of Phase 2.
Now personal care workers like tattoo artists and cosmetologists will need to do the same.
"We have to have a state test site. It wasn't fair to sit there and say you gotta have all these tests and then not pay for them," said Gray.
Gray's efforts have borne results. In Jefferson County, the state will partner with Samaritan Medical Center to administer free testing.
SMC Director of Public Relations Leslie DiStefano says the state will be providing Samaritan with 300 tests per week.
She also says the state will provide personal protective equipment and the lab for the hospital to send the 300 tests.
DiStefano says this will make those tests free for the people who need them.
"In the past, they would have their insurance billed. If their insurance did not cover it, or they were uninsured, they would then be incurring that cost. So, for them this is a major benefit," she said.
DiStefano says Samaritan will utilize its drive-up testing center to administer the state supplied test.
"To date we've had over 2,900 people actually drive through that location. So, for us it just makes the most sense, especially with supplying staffing for this," she said.
Gray says the partnership between the state and Samaritan will save the taxpayer money.
"There would've been considerable cost to the state to come in and set up a site, when we already had one running," he said.
DiStefano says the hospital is still determining when the free testing will start.