East End towns roll out new testing programs in race to avoid micro-cluster classification
The race is on to stomp out hot spots on the East End before the state deems them micro-clusters, which would lead to COVID-19 restrictions being implemented.
COVID-19 infection rates have risen quickly in parts of Suffolk, but attention is being paid particularly in areas like the Town of Southampton.
A pop-up drive-in COVID-19 test site opened Friday at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays, where their infection rate is averaging at 6.5%.The county also began a testing program at Hampton Bays schools.
The testing center in Hampton Bays will reopen again on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning next week. Reservations are required.
Attention is also being paid in the Town of Riverhead where the positivity rate has risen over the last week to 5.6%. There are worries if this rate holds for a few more days, it could become a red zone.
A red zone would close nonessential businesses and force schools to shift to virtual learning.
"If we hit the red zone, it's going to be devastating to the community and our school district," says interim Schools Superintendent Christine Tona. "We want our students in school as often as we can have them in school."
Riverhead schools started testing some staff and students voluntarily beginning Friday. Staff members who got tested Friday received results just minutes later.
Riverhead's town supervisor says more testing will help identify infections and hopefully prevent a micro-cluster and the business and school closures that go along with it. She hopes they'll have a drive-thru testing site similar to Hampton Bays' by next week.