Schumer says Orleans County without free COVID test site, urges feds to make funding available

Nov 19, 2020

A free COVID testing site is nowhere to be found in Orleans County, says Senator Charles Schumer, and case numbers there are rising like everywhere else. He appeared in the county Thursday morning to urge the Trump Administration to make money available to change that.

Schumer appeared outside Medina Memorial Hospital, where he praised healthcare professionals for working hard with limited resources.

Senator Charles Schumer speaks outside Medina Memorial Hospital Thursday, urging the federal government to release funding so that communities such as Medina and Orleans County may establish free COVID testing sites. No such site currently exists in the county.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Also praising healthcare workers was Orleans County Legislature Chair Lynne Johnson, during her introduction of the senator."

"Take a moment at your Thanksgiving dinner and say a prayer for them. We are so very thankful for them," she said. "And as chairman of the Orleans County Legislature, I want to say that increasing COVID testing capacity is vital to keeping our community safe and avoid other restrictive measures that could disrupt our businesses, our in-school instruction and families."

Schumer then stated that with no free COVID test sites available within Orleans County, residents in need must travel to Rochester or Buffalo to acquire one. The federal government, he complained, has $9 billion set aside for COVID needs but is sitting on it. Then, Schumer issued two demands.

"First, that the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington release these billions, because the intention of Congress was to apply them to this crisis," he said. "And second, that our country come together and the Congress come together in a bipartisan way and expand the testing regime as the winter approaches."

The county's seven-day average positive test rate was 5.9 percent earlier this week. It was below two percent last month. Last week, Orleans County reported 30 new COVID cases in one day, the highest 24-hour infection rate since May.

"Orleans County has had an average demand of 300 tests per day, even before the rates started increasing," Schumer said. "They need to do this right, and that's what they want to do. Seven to eight rapid test machines, thousands of rapid test kits. Right now they only have two machines."

Schumer also acknowledged a need for more equipment and tests at Orleans Community Health and other providers.