Local officials caught off guard as Cuomo announced COVID testing for all New Yorkers

WWNY Local officials caught off guard as Cuomo announced COVID testing for all New Yorkers

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - When Governor Cuomo declared every New Yorker can get a COVID-19 test Wednesday, it caught local officials off guard.

There are questions like "where do you go?" and "are there enough supplies?"

Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown is considered a state testing site. But if you want a free test, don't expect to get it tomorrow.

You may have to wait until the end of next week. SMC is still working with the state’s third-party laboratory to give state-mandated tests.

Jefferson County Legislature Chair Scott Gray says he is still searching for answers as to who will pay for tests and whether insurance companies will cover them or not.

“Part of being a state collection site is that you work with the state’s third-party lab vendor, which is Bioreference. We’re working with Bioreference right now through the paperwork, through the processes, how do you collect specimens and get it through to them as quickly as possible. And those are the things that just have to be worked through before we’re able to become a full on collection site.” said Leslie DiStefano of Samaritan Medical Center.

"Immediately I start making some phone calls and I talk to our Public Health Director to see if she has any different guidance in terms of what the protocol is for testing. There's been nothing yet from the Department of Health," said Gray.

As we wait for the state Department of Health to give more answers, DiStefano says a dry run with the state laboratory, Bioreference, will be on July 7 and the hospital anticipates that testing will begin by the end of next week.

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