New York state will scale down state-run COVID-19 test sites as the focus shifts to over-the-counter at-home test kits following a wintertime surge in virus cases, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday.

The state is retaining contracts through to quickly re-open testing sites if needed. The state will keep 15 vaccine sites open, and New Yorkers older than 50 have been encouraged by federal public health officials to receive a second booster shot.

The move to scale down testing sites comes after more than 68 million at-home test kits have been distributed in New York. There are 1,910 locations to find a COVID test in New York.

"As we've seen throughout the pandemic, test kits are a critical tool in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent exposure to others," Hochul said. "We have already distributed nearly 70 million COVID-19 tests, and we will continue to focus our efforts on distributing at-home tests to New Yorkers and build up our stockpile so we can bolster our preparedness for the future, keep our communities safe, and safely move forward through this pandemic."

Officials over the last several weeks have been monitoring a subvariant of omicron that is considered similarly contagious, though Health Commissioner Mary Bassett in March said she does not expect this strain to lead to a significant rise in COVID cases heading into the spring.

Pandemic-related restrictions such as mask wearing indoors for many public places, such as schools and offices, have been lifted, though remain in effect for locations like hospitals, jails and mass transit.

Bassett called at-home testing kits "a critical tool helping to curb spread in our communities."

"New research released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that we must continue to center equity across all of our pandemic response efforts," she said. "In getting tests to nursing homes, senior centers, food banks, and NYC Housing Authority tenants, and in keeping our state-run mass vaccination sites open to all, that's exactly what New York State is doing."