Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday unveiled his plan to “ultimately defeat” the coronavirus in New York, starting with ramped-up testing in the city’s public-housing developments — but acknowledged supply shortages will hamper the campaign.
“The residents of NYCHA have been hit particularly hard,” de Blasio said in a press briefing. “We want to do more to help you through this crisis.”
That effort begins in earnest on Friday, de Blasio said, with the opening of three coronavirus testing sites located near NYCHA developments: at the Cumberland Health Center in Crown Heights, the Belvis Health Center in Mott Haven and the Gouverneur Health Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
And beginning next week, three developments will receive their own dedicated testing centers, de Blasio added: the Jonathan Williams Houses in Williamsburg, the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem and the Woodside Houses in Queens.
The biggest problem, de Blasio admitted, is that the city still doesn’t have near enough tests to reach the level needed to pull the plan off.
“If we don’t get the testing, then all the other pieces don’t come together,” he said. “We’re going to keep looking under every stone to get the quantity of testing we need.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also stressed the importance of ratcheting up testing, and assured New Yorkers on Tuesday that President Trump agreed to help boost the state’s supplies.
Those efforts come on the heels of a joint state-city announcement earlier this week that eight city developments will get testing sites, as well as caches of critical supplies including cloth face coverings and gloves.
That gear will be distributed starting next week, de Blasio said Wednesday.
The NYCHA directive is in addition to a large battle plan de Blasio laid out for the next phase of the fight against the coronavirus, which depends on a dramatic and yet-to-be-detailed expansion of test and lab capacity.
Starting next month, de Blasio said, public buildings will be converted into centers where New Yorkers can be tested for the disease by the thousands.
“If you test negative will get instructions on how to protect yourself,” he said. “If you test positive then we get you care right away.”
Potentially tens of thousands of New Yorkers will be placed in isolation, with those unable to go home for fear of infecting others put up in city hotel rooms, de Blasio said.
The city will also expand its pool of “disease detectives” to track down those who crossed paths with confirmed coronavirus patients, in search of those who may not even know they’re infected.
“The plan is called tests and trace,” he said. “This is how we ultimately defeat the disease.”