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Small business owners take advantage of COVID-19 test kit and mask giveaway

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Rochester police direct traffic outside Frontier Field as hundreds of business owners Thursday pick up COVID-19 test kits and KN95 masks.

Long lines of cars snaked around Frontier Field on Thursday, with many small business owners taking advantage of the offer of free KN95 masks and COVID-19 rapid test kits.

The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, working with Monroe County and the Rochester Red Wings, organized the giveaway to help businesses who have public-facing employees.

Chamber President and CEO Bob Duffy said the number of people who showed up for the test kit and mask giveaway was impressive.

“It’s like going to a Buffalo Bills game and waiting in line for hours, the cars lined up. They were here this morning, after 9 o’clock and we started at 12 o’clock,” said Duffy. “We started a half hour early, the RPD officers asked us to please start early because the traffic was stopped in all directions. But it shows you the need, people worried about their health, their safety and we’re just very glad to be part of this as a chamber and help with this.”

Missey Stenzel, owner of Forever Friends Childcare, one of many business owners getting the masks and test kits said the gear is key for her employees and the community overall.

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Missey Stenzel, owner of Forever Friends Childcare in Irondequoit, waited in line with hundreds of other business owners Thursday to get COVID-19 test kits and KN95 masks for her staff.

“This is super important to me because we serve teachers in the Rochester area so we’re trying to keep our staff and our facility safe so that we can keep teachers teaching and their kids cared for in a safe way and schools can keep in person,” said Stenzel.

Donald Beeley of Perri’s Pizza, said he was trying to do that he can to help their 18 employees.

“I mean we want them safe, I want all my employees safe,” said Veeley. “In food service, we’ve been hurting real bad, just keep everybody in school and keep everybody healthy and safe and God bless everybody.”

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Monroe County handed out KN95 masks and test kits each to businesses Thursday to help keep them open during the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the turnout they got on Thursday shows the kind of need there is in the area for the test kits and masks.

“I view this as a sign, that the number of cases we had yesterday (Wednesday) is a sign that the test kits that we purchased are getting out into the community, people are using them, and it’s finding those cases that we might not otherwise have found, which was the point,” said Bello.

The county executive also said that another half-million rapid test kits will be coming to the county in the next couple of weeks.

On Thursday, Monroe County reported 2,924 new cases of COVID-19.

There were 553 people hospitalized in the Finger Lakes region (up 22 from Wednesday). 122 of those patients are in the ICU (up one from Wednesday).

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.