Confusion surrounds absence of rapid tests for Nassau's first responders that were due this week

Nassau County was expected to begin COVID-19 testing for its police officers this week, but so far that hasn't happened.

News 12 Staff

Apr 10, 2020, 9:08 PM

Updated 1,556 days ago

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Nassau County was expected to begin COVID-19 testing for its police officers this week, but so far that hasn't happened.
Confusion has been notable around the 20,000 rapid antibody tests that were supposed to be made available to Nassau County's first responders this week. County officials said Monday that officers would be able to get the tests, distributed by Melville-based Henry Schein.
"The commissioner and the county purchased 20,000 kits for our members. The commissioner said they were trying to implement it on Wednesday or Thursday," says Nassau PBA President James McDermott. "That was yesterday and the day before, nothing's happened since."
News 12 obtained an email from a top chief at the Nassau Police Department that was sent out to members Thursday. It states the department had "not received the Henry Schein coronavirus tests" and that the tests still need FDA approval.
"His word is very good to me, and if he put something out like that, that's what I believed," says McDermott. "But moments later, he recalled the email, so I don't know what's going on."
Later, Nassau Executive Laura Curran addressed the rapid tests, saying, "We can't move forward."
However, on the Henry Schein website, it states it doesn't need the "FDA's typical clearance or approval processes ... because the coronavirus presents a public health emergency."
"We can't be waiting forever, we can't be waiting for results forever, and if we have these tests, which I called for, in place then we can move right along," says McDermott. "And it's peace of mind for our guys."
A Nassau County spokesperson stated that the issue is not approval - the tests have been approved for sale. The delay is the validation of the test.  The conducting laboratory, in this case NUMC, is required to validate the test prior to using it, which could take weeks.
Henry Schein said in a statement to News 12, "Henry Schein is distributing serology antibody rapid tests pursuant to the FDA’s emergency guidance issued on  March 16, 2020. We look forward to working with Nassau County to meet their needs."
 


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