January 27, 2022

Cortland emergency medical techs get virus rapid testing equipment

coronavirus particles

Cortland City emergency medical technicians have been trained to use coronavirus rapid testing kits the state left to the county in October and are ready to test all city employees once the state approves their plan.

“It’s in the state’s hands right now,” Fire Chief Wayne Friedman said Wednesday.

The fire department received four testing machines and 240 test kits from the county last week, Legislator Cathy Bischoff (D-Cortland), the chairwoman of the county Health and Human Services Committee, said Monday.

That’s enough kits to last the city perhaps a month, if it tests employees every two weeks. The city would run out in two weeks if it tested weekly, but that may not be possible.

“We’re hearing the state is limited with the test kits,” he said.

This move comes after the county approved the loan of 15 testing machines from the state to the county in November. The machines were used Oct. 23 to 25 at three locations in the county to test residents for COVID-19.

One machine has been given to the Cortland County Jail to use; the rest have been unused for more than two months.

Friedman said the fire department is looking to go department by department testing city employees on a scheduled basis. However, he said the city will test whomever it can, for as long as it can with what kits it has or can get. He also said employees who test positive will still need to go to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center for a more-precise PCR test.

“There’s inaccuracies up to 20%,” Friedman said of the rapid tests.

Bischoff said no other entities have asked for rapid testing machines.

“I think the focus shifts to vaccinations,” she said.

She also said the county is working with Cayuga Medical Center at the Gutchess Sports Complex in Cortlandville to do testing.