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Press Releases

Testing for All: NYC Test & Trace Corps and the Health Department Announce Distribution of 500,000 Rapid Self-Testing Kits and 1 Million KN95 Masks to 150 CBOs Across New York City

Community-delivered rapid self-testing resources will further expand New York City's COVID-19 response to communities who are hardest to reach and most in need

Dec 16, 2021

New York, NY

The NYC Test & Trace Corps announced today that, in partnership with the NYC Health Department and NYC Care, 500,000 rapid antigen self-testing kits and 1 million KN95 masks will be distributed through community-based organizations (CBOs) across New York City. Community partners who enroll in the At-Home Test Kit & Mask Distribution Program will receive a regular allocation of self-test kits and KN95 masks to distribute at no-charge to the communities they serve. The program has begun to engage 150 organizations, and will continue to add partners in the coming weeks.

“Arming trusted community partners with self-test kits puts this vital resource in the hands of leaders across New York City to share with the communities that need them most,” said Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at New York City Health + Hospitals and NYC Test & Trace Corps Executive Director Dr. Ted Long. “I am proud that New York City operates the largest community-guided testing strategy in the nation and that this program will bring even more testing where it’s most needed, providing New Yorkers the critical information they need to break chains of transmission and protect their loved ones from COVID-19.”

“Community-based organizations continue to be a key part of our approach in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, and we must remain steadfast in centering equity in all that we do,” said Health Department First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easterling. “Equipping our partners with rapid test kits and masks will help in our effort to keep communities safe.”

“In the face of Omicron and rising cases, it is essential that every single New Yorker has access to COVID-19 testing regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status,” said Medical NYC Test & Trace Corps Director of Community Testing & Vaccination Dr. Jonathan Jiménez “Empowering community-based organizations to distribute rapid tests to their communities enables trusted messengers to bring testing to all New Yorkers when and where testing is needed most.”

Initial program partners have been selected based on their demonstrated ability to reach thousands of New Yorkers in every borough and diverse communities across the City, including many communities that have higher rates of transmission and less access to other means of testing, including costly at-home tests available in the private market. Among the program partners are CBOs who operate in communities with specific language or cultural barriers or deliver resources to high-need groups, including seniors, people with disabilities, laborers, service workers and the street homeless population. The program will continue to engage partners to ensure accessibility to as many New Yorkers as possible.

Partners will apply for an initial monthly allocation of 50, 100 or more Abbott BinaxNOW Self-Testing kits and receive regular allocations of test kits and KN95 masks through distribution events to be scheduled in each borough. Program partners will distribute test kits and masks through a wide array of activities, including regular client/member programming, food pantry distributions, afterschool programs or religious services and special events. In addition, partners may also conduct door-to-door canvassing to reach community members who may be homebound, lack transportation options, or otherwise cannot access existing testing options or masks.

After participating in an orientation, program partners will receive their initial allocation December 20. Staff from the NYC Test & Trace Corps, the Health Department and NYC Care will work closely with their program partners to plan distribution events, outreach activities and coordinate reporting and replenishment requests.

Each kit contains two Rapid Antigen tests and a flyer with instructions in 13 languages for what you should do if you test positive:

  • Call your healthcare provider
  • Isolate for the recommended 10-day quarantine period
  • Inform your household and anyone whom you have been within 6 ft. of for 10 minutes or more in the past two days
  • Contact the NYC Test & Trace Corps Hotline at 212-COVID19 to report your positive test and get information on free resources to help you stay safe, such as free food delivery or a free hotel room

Abbott BinaxNOW Self-Testing kits can be used by anyone age 15 and older and administered by an adult to children ages 2 to 14. Self-tests can be used by people with or without symptoms of COVID-19. Please watch this video for more information on how to use BinaxNOW Self-tests.

By empowering program partners to provide self-testing kits and utilizing nontraditional models of resource delivery, the City will continue to address inequities in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic. The NYC Test & Trace Corps, which recently doubled the size of its mobile testing fleet and has directed hundreds of thousands of tests to communities in need, will continue to pursue community-guided testing to enhance its capacity to reach communities with unmet needs and individuals who have been historically neglected or not felt comfortable engaging with government institutions. Additionally, high-volume brick & mortar City-run testing sites will be able to distribute rapid at-home tests to people experiencing long wait times.

“With Omicron and Delta variants on the rise, we have seen an increase in positive cases even among the vaccinated community,” said Mon Yuck Yu, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Academy of Medical & Public Health Services. “Community-based organizations have been critical players in resource dissemination throughout the pandemic, from distributing PPE to supporting COVID-19 vaccines, because of the cultural competency we offer and trust that we have built among community members. NYC Test & Trace Corps’ initiative to create an expansive network of the CBO rapid testing and PPE distribution sites ensures that testing is accessible to all. We are excited to partner with NYC Test & Trace on this initiative so that we can continue to keep our families protected as we tackle the uncertainty of COVID-19.”

“Throughout the pandemic, the City has been very responsive to the community’s needs,” said Alexander Rapaport, Executive Director of the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network. “Masbia has been receiving about a dozen trucks of food every week. We will now use our distribution infrastructure to bring masks and test kits to the families on the breadlines and keep NYC safe.”

“The Brighton Neighborhood Association Inc. is honored to be on the frontlines in this war to stop COVID-19 and that is why we are stepping up to distribute at-home Rapid Test Kits and KN95 masks to concerned residents,” said Pat Singer, Executive Director, Brighton Neighborhood Association. “We are in it to destroy it!”