WE NEED YOUR HELP — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

City of Glen Cove to order coronavirus antibody tests for first responders

Posted

In an online vote on March 30, the Glen Cove City Council accepted a proposal to purchase 200 test kits for Covid-19 antibodies that would return results in 15 minutes. 

The 200 test kits, that will be provided for the city’s first responders, would cost $6,600. As of Tuesday, the test kits were being held at customs in John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. 

Councilwoman Dr. Eve Lupenko Ferrante said that the City Council was able to vote online on the matter instead of at a City Council meeting because Mayor Timothy Tenke declared a state of emergency in Glen Cove. The matter will be up for an official vote at the April 14 Council Meeting.

“We jumped on that opportunity to make sure we get [the tests] and take any measure we can to keep our first responders safe,” Councilwoman Marsha Silverman said. “Any incremental costs relating to the pandemic, we’re not going to cut corners that would risk anyone’s health. You can’t put a price tag on health and life.” 

That’s exactly why the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged officials on March 19 to take appropriate actions out of interest for public health and safety by reimbursing 75 percent of Covid-19 related costs.

Under the federal Section 502 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, state, territorial, tribal and local government entities, along with certain non-profit organizations, are eligible to apply for public assistance from FEMA. 

“The city is in the process of applying for FEMA assistance related to unbudgeted expenses incurred as a result of containing and avoiding the spread of COVID-19,” said Shannon Vulin, the city’s public relations officer. “These incremental expenses are primarily personal protection equipment (PPE), sanitizers, disinfectants and other cleaning supplies, certain computer equipment to assist with working remotely and COVID-19 tests for our first responders.”

The controller, Michael Piccirillo, will keep track of Covid-19 related expenses. The expenses would appear in a separate fund line, not included in the adopted budget, which would provide transparency to the public, Vulin said.

At a cost of $6,600, the test kits will cost about $33 each. Henry Schein Inc., an American distributor of health care products and services based in Melville, will be supplying the test kits.

The company announced on April 1 that it would serve as an exclusive distributor rapid test kit. 

According to Henry Schein Inc’s release, the company, was able to make the test kits targeted for health professionals by working with Becton, Dickinson and Company, a global medical technology company, and BioMedomics, a clinical diagnostics company based in North Carolina.  

The test analyzes blood, serum or plasma samples for the presence of Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies associated with the coronavirus test. The test is done by collecting a few drops of blood into a test cartridge, followed by two or three drops to buffer. The results are then ready to be read in 15 minutes. 

“The BioMedomics serology test has been validated in numerous hospitals around the world and will be a critical tool to detect current or past exposure to Covid-19,” SAID Dave Hickey, the president of Integrated Diagnostic Solutions for Becton, Dickinson and Company. 

That current guidance from the Food and Drug Administration recommends that results from antibody testing should not be used solely to diagnose or exclude coronavirus infection. And the test has not been reviewed by the FDA. However, the FDA did permit the test kit for distribution and use under the public health emergency guidance issued by the agency on March 16. 

 Lupenko Ferrante did state at the pre-council meeting that she was inquiring about purchasing antibody test kits at a more competitive price.