Testing for All: NYC Test & Trace Corps Announces Doubling of Mobile Fleet and Deployment of Mobile Testing to Over 1,400 Locations Across New York City
Community-guided mobile testing deployments have provided more than 800,000 tests—and counting—over 18,000 testing days, offering quick, accessible testing resources and testing equity to New York’s most impacted communities
The NYC Test & Trace Corps announced today that its mobile testing fleet will be doubling the number of mobile units over the course of the next month and that its mobile testing teams have deployed to over 1,400 locations, including over 1,000 unique locations. These mobile testing sites have provided New Yorkers access to fast, flexible, no-cost COVID-19 testing when and where it’s needed most. Mobile testing deployments, guided by partnerships with community organizations, have provided more than 800,000 tests over 18,000 testing days, ensuring nearly two thirds of those deployments were dedicated to neighborhoods most severely impacted by COVID-19.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our mobile testing teams have provided New Yorkers with reliable, adaptable, no-cost testing able to reach communities at thousands of locations wherever access, community need and the conditions of the pandemic necessitated,” 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. “The scope of our testing resources, soon to double in testing capacity, has progressed in step with our knowledge of how to best engage our communities, ensuring that testing is directed to those at high risk and disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Working hand in hand with our partner organizations, our community-guided testing model will continue to lead us safely forward, and create a lasting relationship with our communities that will benefit the health of our city long after the fight against COVID comes to an end.”
“We are grateful to work with NYC Test & Trace Corps and support their expansion of this vital testing initiative” said Stan Vashovsky, CEO of DocGo. “We are committed to providing high-quality, highly accessible medical care to patients when and where they need it. We can’t think of a better way to achieve this vision than to help battle COVID-19 in our hometown of NYC.”
Since the launch of the mobile testing initiative in August 2020, NYC Test & Trace Corps’s mobile testing units have provided 868,000 COVID-19 tests and deployed to 1,400 locations throughout the five boroughs—more than tripling the number of locations since January 2021. These include 688 locations served by mobile units, 578 locations served by microsite and self-testing teams, and 140 locations served by the Street Health Outreach and Wellness (SHOW) mobile program. Mobile testing units offer PCR as well as Rapid Antigen point-of-care testing, the latter having results available within 15 minutes, and offer dual-flu and COVID-19 testing for both viruses with a single swab.
NYC Test & Trace Corps prioritizes equity and access in communities of greatest need, including for mobile testing deployments. Regional COVID-19 positivity rates are constantly being assessed in conjunction with the recommendations of hundreds of community partners to ensure impactful, comfortable sites.
In accordance with these priorities and site-selection criteria, NYC Test & Trace Corps has deployed 60% of mobile testing sites and 54% of self-testing sites to the 74 zip codes the NYC Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) has designated hardest hit by the pandemic and most at-risk. A study conducted by our leadership between December 2020 and April 2021 found that 9 of the top 10 neighborhoods with the highest volume of tests performed were zip codes in TRIE neighborhoods and, of those New Yorkers tested, 31% were Black and 29% were Hispanic or Latino.
Over the course of the mobile testing program, NYC Test & Trace Corps has partnered with 120 unique organizations, including community, ethnic and immigrant groups, elected officials, houses of worship, NYCHA tenant associations, neighborhood associations, civics, BIDs, cure violence providers, and local businesses. Community-guided testing has ensured that testing sites are established at accessible, trusted locations and provide the resources to reach communities in the greatest areas of need.
Community-guided testing has also empowered local leaders to act as trusted messengers who encourage testing in their communities. These representatives help extend testing to communities whose access may be limited by language and cultural barriers and establish prolonged connections to health services, including COVID vaccination and NYC Care, a program that provides guaranteed health care access to all New Yorkers and will soon surpass 100,000 members.
Mobile units and self-testing teams travel to community organizations serving vulnerable populations, regardless of neighborhood. To date, over 9,000 mobile testing deployments were held in partnership with a community-based organization, including those serving undocumented and immigrant workers, public housing residents, immigrant New Yorkers, service and food sector workers, faith groups, businesses, and community health organizations. Of those deployments, over 3,500 were held in partnership with NYCHA developments, 1,500 were held in partnership with houses of worship, and 1,500 were held at sites with high-risk essential workers.
The mobile operations of the NYC Test & Trace Corps, which currently stands at over 40 mobile testing units, will double in size over the next month, as it continues to expand and deliver no-cost testing to locations whenever and wherever testing is needed.
“Black Health worked closely with trusted community leaders like NYC Test & Trace Corps on testing for COVID, and more recently in tackling vaccine hesitancy,” said C. Virginia Fields, President and CEO of National Black Leadership Commission on Health. “We have learned that this approach is the best way to encourage residents of vulnerable communities to get the health protections they and the broader community need and deserve.”
“Korean Community Services has partnered with the NYC Test & Trace Corps since the summer of 2020 to reduce access barriers to COVID-19 testing,” said Sara Kim, Director of Korean Community Services Public Health & Research Center. “Mobile testing services have been crucial to under resourced Asian communities and contributed to increased access to testing in the desert neighborhoods of Queens.”
“New Hope Family Worship Center has been blessed to have the NYC Test & Trace Corp’s COVID testing vans in the community,” said Pastor Anthony Graham of New Hope Family Worship Center. “We have moved from 5 or 10 persons per day to 30 to 60 persons some days. We have also seen a rise in the number of children coming to be tested and now the lines are beginning to form. There is never a day that you can’t go to a vehicle and walk in. We thank God.”
“United Sikhs is grateful to Test & Trace for their partnership and help in serving under-resourced communities,” said Ganeet Kuar, Associate Director of United Sikhs. “Test & Trace made COVID testing easier for immigrant populations by bringing their vans to neighborhoods and serving people who would not go out of their comfort zone to access services. Our experience working with their team members was amazing; they would take our late-night calls and try to accommodate as much as they could. We are proud of this team and thankful for their service!”
About Test & Trace Corps
The Test & Trace Corps is the City’s comprehensive effort to test, trace, and provide support for every case of COVID-19 and every person exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Test & Trace Corps allows the City to immediately isolate and care for those who test positive for the virus and then rapidly track, assess, and quarantine anyone who may have been exposed. To help all New Yorkers safely separate at home and monitor their health status, the Take Care pillar of the Test & Trace Corps also offers free hotel rooms with wraparound services for New Yorkers who are unable to safely separate in their own homes. For those safely separating at home, contact tracers perform daily calls and conduct in-person visits as necessary. These calls allow tracers to gauge the progress of cases, ensure proper compliance with separation protocol, and connect people to more supportive services as necessary. Today, 97% of all COVID-19 cases and 94% of contacts reported following isolation and quarantine requirements.
About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.