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Three L.I. urgent care centers, including one in East Meadow, debut nation's first rapid coronavirus test


Three urgent care centers on Long Island are among the first in the nation to debut a rapid test to detect coronavirus, which gives patients results within minutes. 

The American Family Care health care providers in East Meadow, Farmingdale and West Islip began testing patients as part of a full examination on Tuesday, March 31, before launching regular tests the next day. The molecular, point-of-care tests reduce wait time from days to roughly five minutes for positive results and 13 minutes for negative results.

Testing will only be available to those who are symptomatic, according to officials at the AFC Urgent Care centers. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of such testing, developed by Abbott Laboratories, on March 27.

The urgent care centers began regular testing the same day Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals would donate 500,000 test kits to the state, in shipments of 25,000 per day. Corning Life Sciences also donated 100,000 tubes for testing and provided an additional 500,000 at a reduced cost.

As of April 1, the state has given 220,880 tests and continues to provide roughly 15,000 tests each day. Of those tested, 83,712 were positive.

"Rapid testing is the fastest way to return to normalcy and get the economy back up and running, and will also help end the anxiety that has become the most oppressive part of this situation,” Cuomo said. “In the meantime, New Yorkers must continue to comply with all social distancing protocols and stay home as much as possible to prevent spreading this virus to others."