New York City will get ten more COVID-19 testing sites in what Governor Andrew Cuomo called “hotspots” where infection rates remain stubbornly high as the city prepares for Phase 1 of reopening on June 8th.
Six of the testing sites will be located in the Bronx, three in Brooklyn and one in Queens, Cuomo announced at his Saturday briefing at the New Settlement Community Center in the Mount Eden neighborhood of the Bronx, which is one of the identified hotspots.
“The ten hotspots are those areas that we have identified through testing where we're still generating new cases. We're the most aggressive state in the country in actually doing testing and the testing tells you where the new cases are coming from,” Cuomo said.
“If you look at them, we can actually identify them by zip code. It's a dramatic difference between the overall city situation and the situation in these zip codes. Overall city situation is about 19-20 percent infection rate. Some of these zip codes, you have an over 50 percent infection rate. Just think about it,” he continued. “We want to get down that infection rate, get down the new cases in those hotspots. They tend to be in the outer boroughs. Let's focus on those zip codes over the next week.”
Cuomo’s hotspot metric appears to be the rate of positive antibody tests, as his chart highlights 19.9 percent as the citywide antibody rate.
The identified hotspots by zip code are 10457, the Mt. Hope, Crotona, and Belmont sections of the Bronx where positive antibody tests were 51 percent; 10460, the West Farms and Van Nest sections of the Bronx, with 50 percent positive rate; 10468, the Bedford Park, Fordham, Kingsbridge sections of the Bronx, with 50 percent positive rate; 11226 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, with 45 percent positive cases; 11427 in Jamaica, Queens with 45 percent positive cases; 10456 in Morrisania in the Bronx with 43 percent positive cases; 11212 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, with 40 percent positive cases; 10452 in Highbridge and Mt. Eden in the Bronx with 38 percent positive cases; and 10469 in Allerton, Baychester and Williamsbridge in the Bronx, with 38 percent positive cases.
The neighborhoods are largely communities of color, which has been disproportionately impacted by the outbreak.
“These hotspots are not coincidentally predominantly low-income and minority communities and that again raises the issue of disparity and inequality. We are going to be adding more testing sites in these areas,” Cuomo said. “We need people to come out and get tested, find out who has the virus and who has the antibodies, who is possibly contagious.”
He added, “Even if you are a young superhero and you think you are immune from the virus, you can give it to someone else. You can give it to your mother, your father, your aunt, your people living in dense communities. You have many people in one housing complex. You can't socially distance in an elevator in public housing.”
At the same news briefing, Cuomo pleaded that protestors should wear masks while out demonstrating this weekend in the many protests against the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd: “You have a right to demonstrate. You have a right to protest. God bless America,” he said. “You don't have a right to infect other people. You don't have a right to act in a way that's going to jeopardize public health.”
“So, demonstrate. Wear a mask,” he said.
As the NYPD comes under mounting criticism after videos surfaced of protestors shoved and beaten by officers in Brooklyn Friday, Cuomo said he’s asking state Attorney General Letitia James to launch an independent investigation into "all actions and procedures" during the protests, to conclude in no more than 30 days.