Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
“While antibody tests are not a fix-all solution,” Mayor de Blasio said,“they will give our communities the knowledge they need to help us defeat this virus together.”
By Forum Staff
The City will conduct its own antibody survey at community testing sites in the five boroughs to better understand the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
The survey will test approximately 70,000 New Yorkers over an initial two-week period, with the capacity to administer up to 5,000 tests per day, according to the administration.
This week, through a partnership with BioReference labs, the City began to offer antibody testing on an appointment-only basis for approximately two weeks in Long Island City, Morrisania, East New York, Upper Manhattan, and Concord. Scheduling opened last Friday by dedicated hotline, and individual test results will be available in 24-48 hours.
“For New York, a city that has been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, this type of information will be of great value in helping healthcare professionals to analyze the presence and progression of the disease in order to identify at risk populations for possible early intervention,” said Jon Cohen, M.D., executive chairman of BioReference Laboratories.
Additionally, through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the City will also administer 140,000 antibody tests for healthcare workers and first responders across the Fire Department, Department of Correction, Police Department, and hospitals citywide.
Through a separate initiative, de Blasio noted, NYC Health+ Hospitals has now tested over 8,000 healthcare workers for antibodies across its 11 hospitals.
“So many New Yorkers are wondering whether they’ve had the virus, or if they’ve exposed their own families,”the mayor added. “While antibody tests are not a fix-all solution, they will give our communities the knowledge they need to help us defeat this virus together.”
Also, to expand access to care for New Yorkers who have symptoms or questions about COVID-19, NYC Health + Hospitals will continue to grow the capacity of its free Phone-a-Clinician Hotline at 844-NYC-4NYC to be able to handle 120,000 calls a month. With this expansion, Health + Hospitals will aim to provide 16,000 tele-visits to New Yorkers per week via the hotline, accounting for roughly 80 percent of the City’s ambulatory visits. NYC Health + Hospitals has also now completed 60,000 billable H+H tele-health visits at more than 300 clinics citywide since the beginning of the crisis.
De Blasio also announced Thursday that the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence will convene a COVID-19 response work group to prevent acts of domestic gender-based violence and support survivors during the pandemic.The work group will engage a diverse group of 20 providers representing multi-disciplinary services for survivors across the City including shelter, legal services, counseling and mental health services. Providers from both small and large community-based organizations will have representation in the working group, with an emphasis on those serving diverse communities citywide.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz recently noted that the number of reported domestic violence incidents has increased since the City became the worldwide epicenter of the outbreak last month.