Up until last week, pharmacists could not give COVID-19 tests. On Saturday, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order changing that. A pharmacy professor at University at Buffalo says we are now closer to returning to "normal," but it won't be instant.
"We are going to authorize all the independent pharmacists in this state to be collection sites for testing," said Gov. Cuomo during Saturday's press briefing.
"I think shocked is the right word to use. We did not have any heads up that this would be issued this early. Pharmacies are figuring this out right now," explained Dr. Christopher Daly, with the University at Buffalo's School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, after hearing the governor's news.
As the curve in New York state continues to drop, Cuomo has announced the next step is testing – allowing pharmacists to order and perform antibody, FDA-approved COVID-19 tests.
"It allows pharmacists to sign off at the individual pharmacy to become a lab director essentially to send it in," added Daly.
Dr. Daly says this is all being done with the Department of Health issuing guidance and training. However, he believes this will be rolled out in different phases.
"They might bring in an outside public health lab, other pharmacies are doing things to become a limited service laboratory and offer a variety of tests," he explained.
Daly says we could see New York state's 5,000 pharmacies responding, in their own ways, in the next three to six weeks.
This will not be without facing challenges.
"Where do you get the test? Where do you get the PPE depending on the test?" wondered Daly.
And with more person-to-person exposure, making a spike in cases doesn't happen.
"They would have to put policies in place to say, if they are doing diagnostic testing, is there some screening available ... maybe not offered as a walk-in service but appointment only," he added.
Although pharmacies aren't offering testing in Western New York just yet, Daly expects to find out when that could happen here, hopefully, within the next week.