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Cuomo launches new initiative to expand access to testing in low-income communities and communities of color

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Sat, May 9th 2020 04:50 pm

State partnering with Northwell Health to establish 24 temporary testing sites at churches in predominately minority communities

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday announced the launch of a new initiative to expand access to testing in low-income communities and communities of color. The state is partnering with Northwell Health to establish an initial 24 temporary testing sites at churches in predominately minority communities in downstate New York to build on the state's network of downstate testing sites.

The results of the state's diagnostic testing and antibody testing surveys show low-income and minority communities are suffering the most from COVID-19. The largest statewide antibody testing survey of 15,000 New Yorkers found a greater infection rate in communities of color. Additionally, the state's comprehensive survey of all newly admitted patients hospitalized for COVID-19 found communities of color are most impacted and of the 21 ZIP codes with the most new COVID-19 hospitalizations, 20 have greater than average black and/or Latino populations. A deeper look into two of the most impacted communities in the survey, in Brooklyn and the Bronx, found communities of color are also lower-income and have a greater percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections than New York City overall.

Today's testing expansion initiative builds on previous state actions to address inequalities and deliver for those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, the state has partnered with Ready Responders to bring health care services, including COVID-19 diagnostic testing, to residents of public housing in New York City and delivered 1 million cloth masks and 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to public housing.

"It is a cruel fact that when you look at disasters and emergencies the poorest and most disadvantaged people often pay the highest price, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different,"  Cuomo said. "The fact is that low-income and minority communities are suffering the most – it is not right and we have to address it. In New York we are working to break this cycle and actually resolve these disparities. We have already taken aggressive actions to help these communities, and we are going to partner with Northwell Health to set up additional testing sites at churches in predominately minority communities. And I want to thank our congressional partners and the church groups who have been working with us on this issue."

Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling said, "Given the prevalence of the coronavirus within communities of color, it's imperative that we act quickly to prevent further spread of the virus. Among the ways we can protect our communities – beyond social distancing, wearing face masks, avoiding group gatherings and basic hand hygiene – is through testing. Northwell is pleased to partner with Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health to offer antibody and diagnostic testing to churches throughout the city and Long Island."

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said, "We know that the houses of worship, the spiritual community, has always been there to help the community get through the storm. So, now at this moment, thanks to their continued engagement and the governor's leadership and willingness to partner, we can address this COVID-19 pandemic with these houses of worship and religious leaders who have the credibility, the authenticity, and the capacity to reach those in the community who need to be tested. At the end of the day, this is not over for any of us until it's over for all of us. We know that communities of color have been hit particularly hard. This testing initiative will be incredibly essential to ensure we can turn the corner in communities of color such as those that I represent as well as those represented, of course, by great members of the delegation like Nydia Velázquez, Yvette Clarke, Greg Meeks, Adriano Espaillat and so many others. So, thank you, governor, for your partnership."

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said, "Our black and Hispanic brothers and sisters are dying at higher rates of COVID-19, including in my Central-South Brooklyn District. Access to testing is critical in curbing the spread of coronavirus especially in these communities. It is prudent that we come together to ensure minority communities have access to quality health care and testing, which is why I stand with Gov. Cuomo in partnering on COVID-19 testing expansion in low-income and minority communities. Only by working together can we combat this virus – only by working together can New York persevere."

•The governor also announced the preliminary results of the state's antibody testing survey of more than 1,300 transit workers in the New York City region show 14.2% have COVID-19 antibodies, compared to 19.9% of the general population in New York City.

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