UNIONDALE, Nassau County (WABC) -- Hundreds lined up in their cars as Nassau County kicked off the distribution of 20,000 free at-home test kits on Thursday.
County Executive Laura Curran was there to hand out the test kits to individuals and families via a drive-thru event at Mitchell Field in Uniondale.
There was such a huge demand for the at-home tests, the county started handing them out 90 minutes early due to the huge line of cars.
Curran announced the reason the county was giving out the free tests was due to the spike in positive cases, with the omicron variant adding to the rise.
"Omicron has proven to be a tricky and contagious variant," she said. "We have seen quite a surge of cases in our county, at this point, it's really irrelevant to talk about the positivity cases because so many people are doing at home tests and its not being reported."
Officials said as of Thursday, there are 560 coronavirus hospitalizations in Nassau County's 11 hospitals. Fifty of them are in ICU, a much lower proportion to the amount of spike in cases.
"The good news is because so many in Nassau County are vaccinated, we do have the highest vaccination rate in the state and among the highest in the nation, that is providing a lot of protection," Curran said.
The county has also partnered with Northwell Health to offer COVID-19 PCR testing at Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn.
"The distribution of at-home test kits provides a convenient resource to keep our communities safe, while alleviating long lines at clinics and doctors' offices," said Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein. "If you know you're positive, to stay home to stay, to not spread this to other people. The timing of this right before New Year's Eve should help people avoid a situation where they're potentially contagious, and they go to an event and spread it to their loved ones."
The Mitchel Field drive-thru at-home test kit distribution event was being held until 2 p.m. The kits were provided by New York State.
Nassau County residents received up to three kits per car on a first come first serve basis, free of charge. Each kit contains two tests.
The County is also partnering with Northwell Health to expand PCR COVID-19 testing to County residents as the cold weather and holidays have brought a spike in COVID-19 positivity and testing demand.
The drive-thru COVID-19 test site will be available to all residents at no cost Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Appointments are required. To make an appointment please visit: https://www.northwell.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/pcr-testing
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