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Dear NYS Legislator,

I am writing to you as a constituent/small business owner-operator/health care provider to ask for your help regarding Executive Order 202.61, issued by Governor Cuomo on September 9th, 2020, an order that I was first made aware of by email from DOH Commissioner Zucker on September 21st, 2020. The order pertains to new requirements for reporting of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and Influenza testing. Though well-intentioned, I am concerned that the requirements of the order will result in unintended consequences which will ultimately hinder our ability to provide safe, convenient, timely, and cost-effective access to community-based COVID-19 and Influenza testing to the residents of the Capital District. My concerns in regards to the requirements of the order include:

  • Reporting of all point of care generated (POC) COVID-19 and Influenza test results, both positive and negative, to the state exclusively via the NYS-DOH Electronic Clinical Lab Reporting System (ECLRS), and doing so within 3 hours of test result generation.
  • Gathering and reporting of demographic information on each subject receiving COVID-19 or Influenza testing far beyond that which our electronic registration systems currently include, including various employment and school reference and contact information.
  • Entering all routinely obtained patient demographic information along with the additional demographic information, as well as entering subject-specific symptom and exposure information into ECLRS.
  • The inclusion of substantial monetary penalties for non-compliance.

While I am keenly aware of and wholeheartedly support the reasons underlying the creation of the order, I believe certain aspects of the mandate must be revised in order to maintain the viability of community based COVID-19 and Influenza POC testing, while allaying fears I have of either running afoul of the law and/or my fiduciary obligations to responsibly operate a small business. As such and for your consideration I propose as an alternative:

  • Require reporting within 3 hours of POSITIVE POC test results, and only for COVID-19 testing. Considering that more than 98% of tests in our area are negative for COVID-19 and therefore require no contact tracer follow-up, allowing for weekly batch reporting of negative COVID and overall Influenza test information ought to be sufficient to provide the public health authorities with the epidemiologic and prevalence information that they require.   
  • Allow practices to report the customary demographic information on subjects who test positive, thereby allowing contact tracers to perform the jobs they have so far been appropriately tasked with doing.
  • Expand the reporting options for practices to provide required information via fax or email, in addition to the state’s ECLRS system.

I would gladly make myself available to further discuss the ramifications of 202.61 with you or your staff, and thank you in advance for your time and consideration regarding this very important matter.  

Very truly yours,

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