Army of 1,700 contact tracers and new test sites hope to get NYC back online

Mayor Bill de Blasio
File photo

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that five more community-based coronavirus testing sites will open in June, and that the city’s hired 1,700 contact tracers to help contain COVID-19.

Three of the five new sites are in Queens at Beach 39th Street, Leavitt Field parking lot, 1716 Bleecker St.; the other two are in the Bronx at 1302 Edward L. Grant Hwy. and 921 East 228th St. All five sites will open June 1.

Two sites will open in Brooklyn the week of June 8 at 4002 Fort Hamilton Pkwy. and 6315 14th Ave. A new testing site will come online on Staten Island the week of June 15, at the Greenbelt Recreation Center.

The week of June 22, a site will open at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queens and the week of June 29, two more sites will open at the Manhattanville Health Center and 4006 3rd Street in the Bronx.

By the end of June, there will be 180 testing sites across the five boroughs, according to the mayor.

“Our goal is to be at 50,000 tests per day and we feel confident that about our goal,” said de Blasio during his daily novel coronavirus press conference. “Testing is what gives us the ability to know what is going on person by person and in the whole city.”

The mayor also announced that 1,700 coronavirus tracers would be ready to start tracking the contacts of novel coronavirus positive New Yorkers by June 1.

“This is a huge new piece of the puzzle,” said de Blasio.”This is when we go on the offensive and we put into play something that really changes our whole fight against the coronavirus.”

The new cohort is made up of 938 “case investigators” who call New Yorkers after they have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and trace or track down the contacts they have been in touch with.

“They’ll go over symptoms, make sure they are safe, contact intimate partners, people that they live with or people that they have been within six feet of for more than 10 minutes,” said Dr. Ted Long, head of the city’s Test and Trace Corp.

The remaining tracers are “monitors” who will call contacts to make sure they get tested and conduct follow up calls.

The new tracing cohort has enough multi-lingual members to communicate with New Yorkers in over 40 different languages and, according to the mayor’s office. Over 400 of the new tracers and 331 monitors come from neighborhoods hardest-hit by the virus. Over 40 % of monitors speak Spanish, according to the city.


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