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Monroe County municipalities to distribute rapid COVID-19 test kits to residents

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Racquel Stephen
County employee seals box with rapid test kits ready for distribution.

As promised, Monroe County has begun rolling out 750,000 free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits to residents.

Officials said on Wednesday that 250,000 of those tests will be given to school districts, and the remaining 500,000 will be distributed to residents in local municipalities.

“We're doing here what few municipalities have done across this whole country to quell the spread of COVID-19,” said County Executive Adam Bello while standing in amid thousands of rapid tests labeled by town and city.

On Wednesday those municipalities and school districts picked up their allotments at the county’s Fleet Center. Bello said the supply was based on population size. Chili Town Supervisor David Dunning, for example, said he received 7,100 test kits that will be distributed among his residents on Saturday.

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Racquel Stephen
Rapid COVID-19 test kits being loaded on City of Rochester vehicle

“We are setting some aside for our volunteer firefighters and some are going to our senior living communities,” Dunning said. He said the remaining kits will be on a first come, first served basis.

Irondequoit, Henrietta, and Penfield will also begin rolling out test kits during the weekend. However, City of Rochester residents may have to wait just a few more days.

Mayor Elect Malik Evans said on Wednesday that distribution plans are still in the works for city residents, but he promises not to be stingy.

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Racquel Stephen
Mayor Elect Malik Evans and Count Executive Adam Bello amid rapid test kits

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to get tests, so there won't be hoarding or rationing of tests,” said Evans, “We want to get as many out to the community as possible.”

Officials say you should visit your town’s website for its distribution plan.

As for the school districts, president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents, Bo Wright, said the strategies will vary among districts.

“I think you'll see some districts that backpack them home, I think you'll see others that sort of have a single point of pickup,” Wright said. He added the goal is to have them in homes for the holiday break.

The county purchased the rapid tests with $7.5 million in federal coronavirus aid, relief, and Economic Security Act funds. Bello said he believed that the government needed to do more than just issue mandates.

“I want to give our residents the knowledge and tools to proactively manage this pandemic,” Bello said.

The Department of Public Health requests that positive rapid test results be reported to the health department. They also ask individuals to immediately isolate themselves, and contact their healthcare provider. Negative test results do not have to be reported.