Politics

NY state senators each get 1,000 masks, 1,000 COVID test kits for districts


State Sen. John Mannion held a giveaway. In a neighboring district, state Sen. Pam Helming made deliveries at select nonprofit organizations. 

That’s how two state senators in central New York and the Finger Lakes region distributed the 1,000 KN95 masks and 1,000 COVID-19 test kits they received for their districts. A state Senate spokesperson confirmed that each of the 63 senators received the same allotment of masks and test kits. 

Mannion, D-Geddes, organized a giveaway event at the Baldwinsville YMCA in the 50th state Senate District. His office required appointments for constituents to pick up the masks and the kits, which contain two COVID-19 tests. The appointments were necessary to avoid long lines at the YMCA and prevent traffic jams. 

According to an advisory from Mannion’s office, half of the masks and test kits were distributed at the event. The remaining masks and test kits will be delivered to programs serving seniors and individuals with disabilities. 

Mannion told The Citizen that his office set up the giveaway within the last three days. His staff contacted constituents to inform them of the mask and test distribution event and scheduled appointments for them to pick up the masks and kits. 

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“We want to help,” he said. “People have been through a lot. Some people are looking for tests. You have groups of people that it’s more challenging for them and it’s important for some of them to be tested frequently to keep themselves safe. It’s really a wonderful thing to be able to do this.” 

Helming’s office confirmed that the senator distributed her allotment of masks and test kits to nonprofit organizations in the 54th state Senate District, which includes part of Auburn and several towns in Cayuga County. A spokesman for state Sen. Peter Oberacker, who has part of southern Cayuga County in the 51st state Senate District, said they are talking to local officials to identify where there is the greatest need for supplies. 

The demand for testing has increased as COVID-19 cases rise across New York. There were 60,374 new positive cases in the last 24 hours and the state’s positivity rate was 16.93%. In central New York, which includes Cayuga and Onondaga counties, the positivity rate was 21.87%. 

The surge in COVID-19 cases has been driven by the omicron variant, which experts say is highly contagious. With omicron spreading much faster than other variants, health officials have advised individuals to wear masks, such as N95 or KN95 masks, that can better protect against the virus. 

Local governments have been holding events to distribute masks and COVID-19 test kits. Last week, Onondaga County handed out 4,000 test kits at the New York State Fair’s Orange lot. Cayuga County worked with Community Action Programs Cayuga/Seneca to hold three drive-thru test kit distribution events last Saturday.

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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