ALBANY, N.Y. (WENY) - Governor Kathy Hochul announced that more than 80 million over the counter COVID tests have been distributed throughout the state. At-home rapid tests are being provided regularly to schools and nursing homes in the state.

"Testing remains a critical tool to identify cases of COVID-19 and limit the spread of this virus," Governor Hochul said. "We have already distributed more than 80 million COVID-19 tests to New Yorkers, and we will continue to bolster our preparedness for the future, keep our communities safe, and safely move forward through this pandemic."

While at-home testing continues to play an important role in identifying cases, Hochul says she is urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated and boosted as the best method of protection against COVID.

New Yorkers ages 50 and over are encouraged to get a second booster according to recently expanded CDC guidance.

Since late December, 81,720,820 tests have been distributed throughout New York to schools, nursing homes and adult-care facilities, local governments and certain non-profits for wider distribution.

Governor Hochul previously announced more than 100 million at-home tests have been procured for distribution across the State to identify new cases and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Of the over 100 million tests procured, nearly 20 million tests have been stockpiled to help prepare for any potential surges later this year.