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Addressing Health Inequities Using Community-Guided Mobile COVID-19 Testing

December 15, 2021

In May 2020, New York City launched the Test & Trace Corps led by NYC Health + Hospitals to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. One of the main goals of the City’s COVID response is to acknowledge and address the disproportionate impact the disease has on communities hardest hit by the pandemic and most in need of additional resources. One of the first ways this was done was to improve the impact of COVID-19 testing.

To help reduce COVID-19 testing inequities, Test & Trace developed a mobile testing program that engaged community partners during the program’s conceptualization and implementation. These community partners became an integral part of the program that allowed mobile units to venture more deeply into communities.

In a paper written for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (JPHMP), Acting Executive Director, Dr. Jonathan Jiménez talks about how working with community partners has guided COVID response within NYC, and how that has led to creating a useful framework for future health initiatives.

Read more about community-guided mobile testing and its impact here:

Key points:

  • Community partners were engaged as decision makers and operational partners in various mobile testing strategies that increased access to COVID-19 testing.
  • Test & Trace used two administration strategies to conduct testing: clinician-administered and patient-administered (“self-swab”). These strategies are comprised of different types of sites, including outdoor testing in pop-up tents, testing in vehicles, and expanded vehicle testing with assistance from outside vendors.
  • Mobile testing resources are allocated in daily or weekly commitments to areas of highest need based on criteria with recommendations from NYC Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE), NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and independent community partners.
  • In total, 241 distinct partners, including community-based organizations, houses of worship, NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), and Business Improvement Districts have been involved so far.
  • In conjunction with the NYC Vaccine Command Center, the Test & Trace mobile team launched a mobile vaccination program using the community-guided model after COVID-19 vaccine authorization. The community partnerships developed through the testing program are utilized to identify the best locations to host vaccination clinics.

More from the Test & Treat Corner: