By Sasha Gonzales and Kevin Deutsch
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New York City on Friday announced the opening of its new Morrisania location for walk-in COVID-19 testing—a diagnostic center catering to people of color in one of America’s poorest congressional districts.
The testing site is located at NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health Morrisania, 1225 Gerard Avenue. People seeking coronavirus diagnostic testing can call 311 to make an appointment, or walk in for assistance. At-risk seniors will get priority.
The Morrisania location is among a handful of “community testing” centers Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed would service virus-ravaged communities of color, after Bronx Justice News revealed acute testing shortages and rationing across The Bronx.
“Communities of color have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis,” de Blasio said Friday. “We know that widespread testing is a key part of containing the spread of COVID-19, which is why we are doing everything we can to bring more testing to our most vulnerable.”
Roughly a month into the coronavirus crisis, both New York City and State have been criticized for not making COVID-19 tests more accessible to low-income residents, who have been disproportionally impacted by the coronavirus.
Tests at private medical facilities also remain scarce in the borough, and New York City hospitals are currently only testing patients who require hospitalization. That policy is a consequence of the federal government’s failure to send large numbers of COVID-19 test kits to the city, de Blasio has said.
Testing is critical to isolating, treating, and limiting the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected at least 25,638 Bronxites and killed at least 2,513 of them as of Wednesday, according to data provided by the city.
Some good news on the testing front: The FDA recently approved a request for New York State’s 28 public and private labs to begin manual, semi-automated and automated testing for COVID-19, according to the state.
State officials said those labs will dramatically increase testing capacity statewide, to thousands of tests per day. State testing is free to all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider or by calling the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065, according to the state.
Locally, the prospects for mass testing are bleaker: At current production levels, it will likely be months before coronavirus tests are available for all New York City residents who want one.