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City Sets Up Four Sites for Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Patti Singer

Cephas Archie, chief equity officer for the city, answers questions during a video news conference Dec. 3 about COVID-19 testing. The sign language interpreter is at top right. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

The city has 4,100 rapid COVID-19 tests that it will deploy equally among four sites through the end of December.

Within 24 hours of announcing the sites, about 200 people had registered for the first opportunity at East High School on Dec. 5.

The number of tests should be enough initially for residents without symptoms but who want to get tested. However, more tests will be needed in coming months, Cephas Archie, the city’s chief equity officer, said during a video news conference Dec. 3.

The times and locations are:

  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12 and 19, East High School, 1801 E. Main St.
  • 3 to 6 p.m., Mondays, Dec. 7, 14, 21 and 28, Benjamin Franklin High School, 950 Norton St.
  • 3 to 6 p.m., Tuesdays, Dec. 8, 15, 22 and 29, Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, 501 Genesee St.
  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays, Dec. 9, 16, 23 and 30, Jefferson High School, 1 Edgerton Park

The days and times were spread throughout the city’s quadrants to allow residents flexibility to schedule an appointment.

“We want to encourage people to come out to the testing,” Archie said.

Registration is encouraged and can be done online at or by calling 311. People unable to register can be accommodated until site capacities are full. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Residents are encouraged to arrive in personal vehicles for drive-up testing. However walk-ups will be accommodated. Individuals will be given the test kit and instructed how to do a nasal swab. They will return the kit to a worker at the site, where the test will be evaluated.

Residents will be notified within 20 minutes if results come back positive. If the test is negative, residents will be notified within 72 hours.

Archie said the city is working with RTS to provide free transportation to the testing sites.

The city, along with the towns of Irondequoit, Brighton and Gates — all of which are in the state-designated orange zone — have received rapid test kits from Monroe County. Archie said all municipalities received the same help from the county in setting up their sites.

There were reports in some places of reservations filling within hours of the towns announcing their schedule.

While Archie seemed pleased that 200 people signed up quickly for the East High site, he acknowledged the task of testing may be more difficult in the city.

“We are absolutely aware this is going to be a heavy lift,” said Archie, who holds a doctorate in educational leadership. “We are doing our best to prepare for that now. … The city has a much larger, robust population and sometimes we have more challenges in certain areas, certain specific barriers — transportation — so we’re going to have to do more, probably, than our counterparts in the towns to increase the access and remove some of those barriers.”

Archie said that residents who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 after they have a test can register to be retested. He said the December tests are part of a long-term strategy to continue offering tests to residents.

In late November, Monroe County announced an initiative to get more testing into the city and neighboring towns after their rates of cases pushed them first into the yellow and then the orange designation.

“Getting tested is essential to protecting our circles,” Mayor Lovely Warren had said in a news release announcing the sites. “Someone could have COVID and not show any symptoms, but they can still spread the disease to those they come into contact with; their parents, grandparents, siblings, friends or other loved ones. I encourage everyone to utilize this free service and register to get tested. I have experienced first-hand the pain this disease can cause and I don’t want any other family to experience it.”

The mayor’s mother recently died from complications of heart failure and COVID-19. She previously had an uncle pass away from the virus.

COVID-19 symptoms can be any of the following: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. However, some people with the virus do not show symptoms.

With talk of a vaccine possibly being available within weeks, Archie addressed how the testing procedures could be replicated when a vaccine is available.

He said the current round of testing is built upon procedures used by the REAL Rapid Response Team in October when it conducted COVID testing and flu vaccination. He said the city continues to work with the Rapid Response Team and the county on a plan for vaccine distribution.