Testing Equity: Test & Trace Corps Allocates Nearly Half of All Testing Resources to Neighborhoods Hardest Hit by COVID-19
More than 400 unique testing locations have reached New Yorkers in most impacted communities with fast and flexible options at no cost
Jan 28, 2021
As testing remains a crucial tool in the fight against COVID-19, the NYC Test & Trace Corps today announced that nearly half of all testing resources to date have been allocated to neighborhoods hardest hit by the virus. Since the launch of the initiative in June, 46% of 414 total testing locations have operated in the 28 neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19, bringing a range of fast and flexible testing options at no cost to communities where the need is greatest.
“From the start of the COVID-19 crisis to this moment when testing remains as important as ever, the situation demands that we respond with equity to bring as much testing as possible to the New Yorkers who need it most, which is why our efforts are laser-focused on creating a groundswell of participation from the communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said NYC Test & Trace Corps Executive Director Dr. Ted Long. “Service to the New Yorkers at highest risk drives our work in partnership with community groups to bring safe and easy testing at no cost to hundreds of locations and counting.”
The testing landscape of the Test & Trace Corps has spanned 414 unique locations throughout the five boroughs including 44 brick and mortar sites, 209 locations served by mobile units, and 161 sites served by mobile self-testing teams. Many locations offer rapid point-of-care testing with results available within 15 minutes, and immediate connections to free services such as contact tracing and isolation and quarantine support for those who test positive or have been exposed.
Equity and access are built into testing site planning and operations, where 41% of brick and mortar sites, 40% of self-testing sites, and 52% of all mobile units have been deployed to the 28 neighborhoods identified by the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity as hardest hit by COVID-19. More than half of all mobile testing events include a partnership with a community-based organization or NYCHA development, and one-third of all deployments are located in parks easily accessible to the community.
The mobile operations of the Test & Trace Corps continue to expand and deliver testing to locations based on need, including 48 NYCHA developments and 16 high-risk essential worker sites served by mobile vans and self-testing teams. The fleet of vans currently stands at 36 units and is expected to reach a total of 48 units within the next month, helping the Test & Trace contribute to record-breaking citywide turnout of successive days with more than 100,000 tests.
Mobile units and self-testing teams also travel to community organizations serving vulnerable populations, regardless of neighborhood. Deployments have reached more than 20 community groups serving populations including undocumented and immigrant workers, public housing residents, immigrant New Yorkers, service and food sector workers, houses of worship, business improvement districts, and community health organizations.
“The Bronx was in dire need of increased testing and the NYC Test & Trace Corps answered the call,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Their robust partnership has provided relief to Bronxites who want to make sure their families are safe from COVID-19. On a weekly basis, the NYC Test & Trace Corps can be found in different communities providing free, fast and efficient testing. As we continue to test for COVID-19, we look at the daily positivity and testing rates, and work with them to deploy mobile units to under-tested neighborhoods, and locations with emerging hotspots. This provides confidence that we have the resources to combat this pandemic in the Bronx.”
“Testing is a key component in the battle against COVID-19 and it is important that all New Yorkers have easy access to it,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “It is encouraging to see the Test & Trace Corps work so hard to offer testing across our borough. We will continue to work with our community board chairs and district managers to identify additional locations, especially in traditionally underserved Queens neighborhoods that need access to testing sites.”
“I am encouraged that NYC Test & Trace Corps is placing equity at the forefront of its testing plan,” said Senator James Sanders, Jr. “The diversity of locations and mobile options has helped to ensure that the people that need to get tested the most can receive it. We have a huge task in front of us as we deal with the challenges of this virus. I am grateful for the partnership of the Test & Trace Corps and I’m looking forward to testing, ramping up vaccine distribution and continuing to focus on equity and access.”
“Coronavirus has devastated communities across our city and testing is vital to our fight against the spread,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “The devastation from the pandemic has been disproportionate and it is important that we take steps to address equal access of PPE, vaccination and testing. I thank NYC Test & Trace Corps for all of their efforts to connect with hard hit communities.”
“As COVID-19 ravaged New York City and the nation, it became very clear minority communities like mine in the South Bronx disproportionally felt the impacts of the pandemic than other communities,” stated Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “With so many essential workers of color serving on the frontline daily, the increased density of our neighborhoods, and the lack of public space to take advantage of, black and brown New Yorkers unfortunately made up the majority of confirmed COVID cases and deaths. Working to close these inequities in my district, I began partnering with NYC Test & Trace Corps, Health + Hospitals and DOHMH to provide increased outreach and COVID testing sites. Utilizing my district office, I held upwards of a dozen COVID testing events, which led to thousands of Bronxites getting tested who might not have otherwise because of long lines at neighborhood providers. I thank the administration for their COVID relief efforts in communities like mine, and look forward to continuing to raise awareness of the importance of following all safety protocols and getting tested often.”
“During this pandemic, the Mexican community in NYC has carried the brunt of deaths and other COVID-19 related illnesses compared to other Hispanic communities,” said Jairo Guzman, President of the Mexican Coalition. “Bringing COVID-19 testing to the neighborhoods where we are most impacted was a matter of life or death. It was urgent for us to make sure that persons who looked like us, spoke like us, and shared a similar immigrant experience were also helping our community get tested, learn how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and access healthcare through the NYC Care program. And this would not have been possible without the close and strong collaboration between the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Health + Hospitals. We needed the tools to keep our community safer and they gave them to us for us to make sure we were reaching those who were most exposed to this potentially deadly virus. We go where the need and risk is to keep us all safer and connected to health resources.”
“The Test & Trace Corps has been partnering with us to provide weekly testing in the Sunset Park Asian community, which has been experiencing a sharp increase of COVID-19 infections,” said Haney Ho, Vice President of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association. “Through the partnership, bilingual services can be provided to the community and this highly facilitates and enhances the community’s accessibility to testing, helping people overcome any reservations about getting tested owing to the language barrier.””On behalf of my organization, we would first and foremost like to thank NYC Health + Hospitals for training our staff to conduct COVID testing and giving us this opportunity to serve our New York metropolitan community better in this time of great need,” said Inderjeet Singh, Community Relations Officer for United Sikhs. “Our humanitarian organization, United Sikhs, has conducted COVID testing events all over New York City, especially in areas that have been hit hardest by this pandemic; Corona, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Our trained staff has conducted testing in both indoor and outdoor locations and we look forward to continue working throughout the five boroughs to help our fellow New Yorkers.”
“Small business owners are often the sole employee in many instances,” said Kate Chura, Executive Director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District and the Montague Street Business Improvement District. “Bringing COVID testing directly to them afforded them the opportunity to get tested without interruption to the important work of running a business in the community.”
“The Point CDC is proud to be able to provide space so that our neighbors and community can get tested and stay safe,” said Maria Torres, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Point CDC. “We thank NYC Health + Hospitals for providing that service to support our work to fight COVID-19.”