New York City officials are building a supply line of locally made coronavirus viral test kits, which they say is essential to safely reopening the economy.

Two New York City companies and one college are on track to deliver 100,000 test kits a week by the end of June, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp., which is coordinating the effort. Having a reliable and local source of testing materials is critical as the city moves forward with reopening its businesses and offices, said EDC Chief Executive James Patchett.

"The ability to test is so existential for the future of our economy and the health of New Yorkers that we have to be able to have our own supply of our test kits," he said.

New York City allowed manufacturing, wholesale and construction to restart Monday while nonessential retail businesses are permitted to offer curbside and in-store pickup. State and city officials will monitor infection and hospitalization rates before deciding whether to further relax restrictions.

City officials hope to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scramble for medical equipment that marked the early weeks of the pandemic. Government and hospital officials in New York and other cities across the country were caught without adequate supplies as demand skyrocketed for medical-protective equipment, ventilators and test kits. States shelled out extraordinary sums as they competed with each other and bumped up against China's opaque supply-chain network.

After first reserving tests for only the sickest of suspected coronavirus patients, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is now recommending that all New Yorkers get tested and has opened 180 testing sites citywide, according to the EDC. The state runs several dozen additional testing sites across the five boroughs, and there are also privately run testing facilities.

The EDC's local supply line will contribute more than a quarter of the 350,000 tests the city expects to have the capacity to provide by August, an EDC spokeswoman said. The locally made test kits cost about $7 each, which she said is comparable to kits sourced from other areas.

 

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