To contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Mayor de Blasio today announced a comprehensive “Test and Trace” strategy to reduce COVID-19 infections citywide.
“To defeat this virus, we need to test and trace every last case,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That is why we are drastically expanding our testing capacity and exercising every last option to get the quantity of testing we need.”
Test and Trace
To test as many people as possible, the City will set up sites in communities across the five boroughs to collect specimens and test them for COVID-19. These sites will operate outside of traditional clinic and hospital settings to minimize the burden on the healthcare system.
As of Monday, April 20, 2020, the City has opened five, walk-in community testing sites across the city through a partnership with NYC Health+ Hospitals. On Friday, the City will open three additional Health+ Hospital sites in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx, and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
To trace those who test positive for COVID-19, the City will work with each person who has COVID-19 to connect them immediately to care and help them safely isolate at home, a hotel, or a hospital. The City will also ensure their close contacts are rapidly traced, assessed, and quarantined at home or a hotel, as necessary. Additional contact tracers will be hired or contracted to substantially expand the City’s existing pool of 200 disease detectives and contact tracers.
The City will provide meals, clean clothes, and medical refills for anyone who is isolated and quarantined who may require assistance. Using tele-medicine, the City will perform remote medical checks on those in isolation and quarantined and evaluate individuals with symptoms to determine whether they should be tested or not.
This comes as the City is increasing access to free testing for NYCHA residents by opening six additional sites at or near NYCHA developments. All six sites will be run by NYC Health + Hospitals, and will offer free walk-in COVID-19 testing. NYCHA residents will be prioritized for testing at these sites. Sites at Cumberland Health Center, Belvis Health Center and Gouvernor Health Center will open this Friday. Sites at Jonathan Williams Houses, Woodside Houses and St. Nicholas Houses will open next week.
Five community testing sites from NYC Health + Hospitals are now operating in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. NYC Health + Hospitals / Gotham Health East New York, Morrisania, Vanderbilt, as well as NYC Health + Hospitals / Queens and NYC Health + Hospitals / Sydenham in Manhattan are offering walk-in testing six days a week for those most vulnerable to COVID-19 related illness. Additional information on these sites can be located here.
The City has also partnered with One Medical, a national digital health and primary care provider, to offer COVID-19 testing and virtual care services to frontline 1199SEIU members, including adult care employees or those who work with people with disabilities, as well as other non-member healthcare professionals, essential workers, and NYC residents who are 65 and older with preexisting conditions. Additional information on these sites can be located here.
Update on Death Certificates
Due to COVID-19, funeral homes are experiencing higher than normal requests for burial arrangements. While families might be waiting longer to bury their loved ones during this pandemic, Funeral Directors and families do not have to wait to begin the death certificate process.
The City is making clearer to Funeral Directors and the public that death certificates can still be processed and delivered to funeral homes or families even if final arrangements have not been made. Death Certificates are available once the death has been reported and the case has been registered. This means if a decedent is being held in a morgue for longer than usual without a set burial or cremation date, a death certificate can still be ordered.
Today the City posted clear guidelines for the public, medical professionals, and Funeral Directors. This guidance is available on the Health Department’s website. The City is also be providing DOHMH contact points for members of the public, medical community, or Funeral Director community who have questions about the death certificate process or concerns about delays. The public can call the Health Department at 347-396-7962, and funeral directors can contact the Burial Desk at 212-788-4545. Questions can also be answered via DOHMH chat or via email at email@example.com. Certificates can be ordered online.