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Onondaga County, city of Syracuse to start giving out COVID test kits Wednesday

An example of an at-home COVID-19 test
An example of an at-home COVID-19 test

Distribution of at-home COVID testing kits begins in earnest this week in Onondaga County. The county and its partners begin distributing the two-test kits Wednesday. The city of Syracuse will work through the Syracuse Housing Authority and the city’s parks department programs to get 2,700 at-home test kits out into the community.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said about 15,000 test kits will be distributed through towns and villages, based on population.

"I know some are focused in on senior centers, which make sense because they are the most vulnerable, said McMahon. Some may just come by town hall, and pick up, first come first serve."

This initial round comes from the county’s cache of tests it’s been accumulating in recent weeks. McMahon expects kits to go quickly in this initial giveaway period, but said about 50,000 test kits have been promised to come from the state later this week.

“When we get 50,000 in we’ll give half to our existing network, and then will create other sites throughout the county,’ he said. “And we’ll continue as we get supplies in, to get them out."

The county is distributing KN95 masks to residents as well. Onondaga County and most of the region has been seeing high case numbers as the quick-spreading omicron variant moves through the community, and McMahon expects that to continue for the next few weeks. The good news, he says, is that local hospitalization rates are remaining in the same range, an indication that the variant may not be as severe in most people.

The city of Syracuse announced Tuesday that it will distribute its allotment of test kits starting Wednesday to residents of Syracuse Housing Authority properties, as well as at the following sites: Schiller Park, Magnarelli Community Center, Kirk Park, Cecile Community Center, Wilson Park, and Westmoreland Park. The city will be distributing KN95 at multiple sites around the city, which will be announced Wednesday.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.