Gov. Cuomo directs local governments to focus COVID-19 testing in low-income communities

Results of antibody testing at church sites throughout New York City in lower-income communities showed that 27% tested positive. New York City has an overall positive rate of 19.9%.

News 12 Staff

May 20, 2020, 3:07 PM

Updated 1,432 days ago

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Coronavirus developments in New York:
RELIGIOUS SERVICES

New York will allow small religious gatherings starting Thursday as the state gradually loosens pandemic restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Religious gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed statewide as long as participants wear masks and practice social distancing. The state also is allowing drive-in and parking lot services.
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The state will work with an Interfaith Advisory Council to discuss proposals to safely bring back religious services. The council consists of dozens of religious leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts.
“I understand their desire to get to religious ceremonies as soon as possible. As a former altar boy, I get it,” Cuomo said. “But we need to find out how to do it and do it safely and do it smartly. The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected.”
The guidelines for small religious gatherings came a day after Cuomo said the state will allow Memorial Day ceremonies with up to 10 people, even though nonessential gatherings have been barred in New York since March.
The New York Civil Liberties Union said both announcements raise constitutional concerns.
“We agree small events where people observe social distancing should be permitted, but that has to apply to all First Amendment events, regardless of message and regardless of whether religious or political,” Christopher Dunn, the group’s legal director, wrote in an email.
NUMBERS
New York recorded 112 new deaths Tuesday, a slight increase from 105 the previous day but still lower than past weeks.
There were 5,570 people hospitalized statewide, continuing a slow decline that began in mid-April. An average of 295 people a day are newly hospitalized for COVID-19.
MORE NEIGHBORHOOD TESTING
Cuomo said targeted testing and outreach will be expanded in low-income New York City neighborhoods that have been hotbeds of the outbreak.
Results from roughly 8,000 antibody tests conducted at New York City church sites indicate what previous data have shown: low-income and non-white neighborhoods in the city have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. For instance, while the positive rate for antibodies citywide is 20%, it was more than twice that in Morrisania in the Bronx, according to preliminary results cited by Cuomo.
“The spread is continuing in those communities and that’s where the new cases are coming from,” Cuomo said.
The expanded testing will include 72 churches and faith-based sites and more sites at public housing developments.
Efforts to stop the spread of the disease will include making more protective gear available and more education.
Cuomo said he is directing all local governments to test low-income communities and to develop outreach programs.


OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
-The Bronx has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other place in the New York City metropolitan area. And within the Bronx, almost no place has been hit as hard as Co-op City. Data released by city health officials Monday revealed that the virus has killed at least 155 people living in the zip code that covers the complex.
-For the first time in two months, customers dined outdoors at restaurants across Connecticut as the state began a lengthy process of easing restrictions meant to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
BRIEFING NOTES:
  • Total hospitalizations, intubations, and new cases are down.
  • An additional 112 New Yorkers were added to the state's death toll on May 19.
  • Antibody testing at church sites throughout New York City in lower-income communities: Overall 27% tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
  • New York City has an overall positive rate of 19.9%. The Bronx had the highest percentage of positive tests (34%).
  • "The spread is continuing in those communities." 
  • Gov. Cuomo says Northwell Health is going to double testing program to 44 churches in impacted communities with a focus on public housing. 
  • Breakdown by borough:
    34% Bronx
    29% Brooklyn
    20% Manhattan
    25% Queens
    19% Staten Island 
  • Beginning Thursday, religious gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed statewide where strict social distancing measures are enforced and all participants wear masks.
  • Drive-in/parking lot services will also be allowed beginning Thursday.
  • Anyone who wishes to vote on their favorite ad encouraging New Yorkers to wear a mask can do so here
  • Gov. Cuomo said he would welcome a probe into the high death rates at New York state nursing homes.
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