Michael Murphy wore a mask as he stood in a long line Friday afternoon outside Cortland Junior-Senior High School.
The line of people, generally spread at least 6 feet apart and all wearing masks, stretched from the cafeteria out the door and around the corner past the auditorium on a sidewalk along the parking lot and an access road.
Murphy and his wife, who live in Cortland, were among the 200 people who had signed up for rapid coronavirus tests being administered Friday at the school by the state with the assistance of Cortland County Health Department staff and volunteers.
It was one of three such testing sites, which will remain through the weekend. The others were at Homer Intermediate School and Marathon High School.
“It’s just about being careful, more or less,” Murphy said. “We are both in constant contact with the public. We want to be safe for ourselves and the community’s sake.”
Murphy works at Modern Market in Moravia and his wife is a professor at SUNY Cortland.
He said neither has been experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.
Still, testing is essential to the state’s strategy to keep COVID-19 in check. The theory is that the more people tested would lead to catching people with coronavirus before they begin showing symptoms.
To make an appointment:
• Cortland Junior-Senior High School: https://tinyurl.com/y2uywxjk
• Homer Intermediate School: https://tinyurl.com/yxb436uz
• Marathon High School: https://tinyurl.com/yyzheth8
People with coronavirus are contagious but don’t generally show symptoms for two to 14 days — typically five days.
Pamela Stark of Cortland said she has also not experienced symptoms, but came to be tested as a precaution.
“I want to get checked because some people at work have it,” Stark said. She did not want to say where she works, but noted her colleagues have been out of work on quarantine.
The coronavirus testing was launched as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases spiked in recent weeks, more than 600 new cases since Aug. 21. People being tested were not charged, as the state picked up the cost.
The county reported more than 700 positive cases since the pandemic began and 163 of them were active on Thursday. A total of 33,290 people had been tested as of Thursday.
The county had for weeks been requesting additional resources from the state, including more testing and assistance conducting contact tracing, said Eric Mulvihill, clerk of the Cortland County Legislature and the spokesman for the testing event.
Help came soon after discussions between local officials and State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras, who visited SUNY Cortland on Monday in response to rapidly increasing confirmed cases of coronavirus among students of the college and the community, Mulvihill said.
County officials had to move quickly. “We had 48 hours to stand this up,” he said.
As of Friday afternoon, there were still time slots available for testing today and Sunday, Mulvihill said. While reservations were encouraged, there may be limited room for walk-ins.
Testing was conducted from noon and 4:30 p.m. Friday and more were planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday.
Each site can accommodate 200 people each day.
State Health Department personnel at the Cortland Junior-Senior High School site Friday said they were not authorized to answer questions about the testing.
Mulvihill said two Innovative Readiness Training training exercises in recent years, which brought military personnel to Homer to provide free health care, was great training for the coronavirus testing.
“We were better prepared,” he said.