COVID-19 cases are on the rise in one Brooklyn neighborhood, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the city will expand testing there to help stop the spread before it gets out of hand.
De Blasio announced that the city’s Test and Trace Corps will “saturate” Sunset Park by knocking on doors, upping canvassing efforts and increasing the number of robocalls in the 11220 zip code to encourage all residents to get tested.
The city will also bring two mobile testing vans to the neighborhood. The first will be stationed at 44th Street and 6th Avenue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Friday this week and all of next week. The second will be parked outside of the Brooklyn Herald Gospel Center at 809 44th Street off of 8th Ave. on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Both vans will be able to administer between 80 and 100 tests a day, the mayor said. The city will also increase the number of available tests at Brooklyn Army Terminal, the borough’s rapid point of care testing site, beginning Monday Aug. 17. The city is also searching for more potential brick and mortar testing sites in the area to expand partnerships with already existing clinics.
Advantage Care Physicians is one primary care provider that has already pledged to more actively test in the area by appointment, according to City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.
The reason for the 228 new cases in the neighborhood is unclear, de Blasio said.
“In a way, the ZIP code wide rate was like the beep of a metal detector that told us where to dig,” Chokshi explained at de Blasio’s Aug. 12 press conference. “Now that we are getting deeper, we’re finding what we’re looking for and are able to help the people we’ve identified. So we’ll turbocharge our activity in the days ahead.”
Over 3,300 New Yorkers have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Sunset Park over the last two weeks, Dr. Choski added.
Since July 29, there have been 104 confirmed cases in Sunset Park with 80 people completing the intake process relaying 130 contacts, according to Chief Equity Officer of the Test and Trace Corp. Annabel Palma. Out of those contacts, 82 % were other people living under the same roof.
On Aug. 10, 81 people were admitted to a public hospital with possible coronavirus symptoms, public hospital intensive care units had 296 patients suffering from virus complications and 1% of New Yorkers receiving a coronavirus test tested positive for the virus, according to City Hall’s daily indicators.
A line of 30 people waiting to get testing snaked around Sunset Park Playground 44th Street on Wednesday afternoon.
“It just better to know if you have it or not,” said Eridania Santos as she stood with her two children Maria and Gabriel who would also be tested, even though they’ve had no symptoms. “I know the kids are young – but better to make sure.”
“I’m gonna get peace of mind because then I’ll know for sure that I don’t have it,” Maria Santos said.
“It’s a good thing to do, it’s for my neighbors and everyone should be getting tested – just to make sure,” said Emma Karsc, a resident of Sunset Park.
“I’m a little nervous I don’t know why – no I haven’t been sick,” said Sadie Meyers, 15. “I just want to make sure because other people in my family could get sick.”
Additional reporting by Todd Maisel