Only 13,000 New Yorkers are tested for coronavirus each week. But officials promise that the number will increase exponentially.
Widespread testing will ultimately allow authorities to locate hot spots of infection and aggressively isolate infected people, which is essential to facilitate the current lockdown.
But for now, first responders and essential workers are still receiving priority diagnostic and anti-body tests in hospitals – and the easiest way for everyone to get tested is the worst part: being hospitalized for severe symptoms of COVID-19.
However, there are options. Walk-in medical clinics – including CityMD – offer diagnostic and anti-body tests to the general public, as do an increasing number of private physicians.
No pharmacy in the city currently offers walk-in screening.
But on Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo cut red tape to allow 5,000 independent, chain-independent pharmacies to start doing so, and industry officials say tests will start going live. in the coming weeks.
“The chains don’t really get their weight – but this has long been a priority for independent pharmacies,” said Michael Johnston, spokesperson for the Pharmacists Society of New York State.
The company is working with the state health department on nuts and bolts to store test materials and keeps test researchers infected with COVID-19 safe from the rest of the pharmacy’s customers.
FDA-approved antibody tests will also be available at independent pharmacies, said Roger Paganelli, former president of the Pharmacists Society who is co-owner of Mount Carmel Pharmacy in Little Italy in the Bronx.
“We chat daily with the staff of the governor of the Ministry of Health,” said Paganelli.
The future of testing looks promising. Hospital screening, city-run social housing programs, and walk-in tests at clinics and pharmacies are all under preparation, officials said.
Meanwhile, self-swab tests will be more widely available in the coming weeks.
“The tests allow us to get out of the generalized transmission of the coronavirus and to move to the next phase, where we can start to resume a normal life,” said the mayor of Blasio on Thursday.
Four city hospitals – Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, and city-run Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals in Manhattan and Queens – have started offering antibody tests to healthcare workers frontline this week.
Diagnostic tests are also offered in hospitals managed by the city and on NYCHA sites in the five boroughs.
The city’s testing program gives priority to residents of housing projects over 65 who have pre-existing conditions.
Last week, three sites went online: the Cumberland Health Center in Crown Heights, the Belvis Health Center in Mott Haven and the Governor Health Center in the Lower East Side.
This week, three more sites began testing: Jonathan Williams Homes in Williamsburg, Woodside Homes in Woodside, and St. Nicholas Homes in Harlem.