Regional hospital networks in New York state will begin to expand testing for a variant of the coronavirus that has been found in the United Kingdom, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said.
"If it's here, we know it, we want to isolate it," Cuomo said.
So far the variant has not been found in New York out of 4,000 tests that have been conducted.
Cuomo on Monday negotiated an agreement with the three airlines – British Airways, Delta and Virgin Airlines – that provide six flights a day into New York City from the UK to test passengers for the COVID-19 variant.
Cuomo believes the new strain of COVID-19, which can spread faster, is already in the United States, though no tests have found it yet. The last variation of the virus was found in New York in the spring.
The move comes as the pandemic continues to spread in New York and throughout the country.
The statewide positive rate in the last 24 hours stood at 5.8% with COVID-19 microclusters included. There are now 6,661 people who have been hospitalized due to the virus and 139 people have died of the virus in the last day.
There have been 50,000 people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in New York. There are 618 nursing homes receiving the vaccine over the next two weeks and the governor is pushing for the vaccine to be administered through the holiday weekend.
The Mohawk Valley region of the state has the highest positive rate over the last seven days on average.