January 20, 2022

Cayuga fights COVID

Hundreds line up in Moravia for self-test kits

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Moravia firefighter and Cayuga County Legislator Mark Strong ushers cars in line for the drive-thru COVID-19 test kit distribution. With the help of the Moravia Fire Department and the Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Programs, Cayuga County distributed more than 700 kits to residents outside the Moravia VFW Post 7127 Saturday morning.

MORAVIA — Rick and Lynne Raymond have spent the past week-and-a-half scouring Cayuga and Cortland counties for COVID-19 tests without any luck. When they heard Cayuga County was distributing testing kits on Saturday, they cleared their schedules.

“We looked last week, and everywhere they were out,” said Rick Raymond, of Moravia. “We had decided we should have some on hand, just in case.”

The Raymonds were just one car of hundreds in line Saturday morning for the drive-through kit distribution at Moravia’s VFW Fairgrounds.

Bundled up to withstand the 15-degree chill, volunteers were stationed along the side of the road to hand out the small boxes. Nearly 300 of the 720 kits they had were distributed in the first half-hour of the two-hour event.

Last week, the state supplied Cayuga County with 3,300 COVID-19 self-testing kits to distribute to residents.

The Cayuga County Legislature called on the Community Action Programs of Cayuga and the county’s Office of Emergency Services to help organize and run the distribution events, said Grace Reynolds, the fiscal director for Community Action Programs.

“We took it upon ourselves to distribute them equally between three different parts of the county so that everyone had an equal chance to get them,” Reynolds said.

Testing kits were sent to food pantries, community centers, the Auburn Housing Authority and drive-though events Saturday at the VFW Fairgrounds, Fingerlakes Mall and the Cato Recreation Center.

“No matter what your needs are, right now you just can’t get tests. So there needs to be an equal opportunity, to be able to get tests to as many people as we can,” Reynolds said. “Since the holidays, we’re seeing numbers are surging after all the group gatherings, and we don’t want to keep people away from their families, so we want to get these tests to them.”

As the state makes more COVID-19 test kits available, Cayuga County officials and the Community Action Programs will notify residents for future distribution events and updates.

Cayuga County Legislator Mark Strong (R-Summerhill, Sempronius, Moravia, Niles) stood at the front of the line of cars, waving drivers forward when it was their turn.

“Wherever there are tests available, there are a lot of people coming out,” Strong said. “We’ve heard from other places that it’s been insanity — there are just more people than there are kits.”

As a member of both the Moravia Fire Department and the Moravia VFW Post 7127, Ed Shea helped organize the event.

“Our main issue was going to be optimizing traffic, so that’s why we created this big circle drive-through using the road that’s usually only used during our fair,” Shea said.

About 100 cars could be in line at any given time. Six cars at a time, volunteers would hand drivers the testing kits through the passenger-side window.

“Our hospitals are suffering – it is so overwhelming, the more that these folks can test at home and take care of that from home, then it’s going to help the hospitals,” Shea said. “But we’re dealing with stuff that we’ve never dealt with in this generation, not in our whole lives, so people need to be patient and let the system do what it can do.”