Cuomo expands COVID-19 testing in hard-hit Latino communities

File photo

As COVID-19 infections and deaths skyrocket among Latino, immigrant and African American communities, testing is essential to helping hard-hit neighborhoods flatten the curve.

Hispanics account for 34 percent of COVID-19 fatalities but only 29 percent of the population. African Americans represent 28 percent of fatalities but only 22 percent of the population. Meanwhile, the data for whites shows this group makes up 32 percent of the population and yet only 27 percent of fatalities, while Asians make up 14 percent of the population, but only account for 7 percent of the fatalities.

On May 20, Governor Andrew Cuomo and SOMOS Community Care, a network of over 2,500 doctors serving nearly 800,000 largely immigrant New Yorkers, announced that they are partnering with 28 churches across the city to expand COVID-19 testing to Latino communities that have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

The testing sites, operated by SOMOS physicians, are located in predominantly Latino communities in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. This coincides with new data released by the New York City Department of Health showing that neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income and black and Latino people, including the Bronx, are suffering the highest death rates from COVID-19 in New York City.

“Latino communities are suffering immensely during this crisis, and we have seen our worst fears come true,” said Dr. Ramon Tallaj, chairman and founder of SOMOS. “We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for stepping up to address the needs of Latino New Yorkers and establish testing in the heart of our communities: our churches. We must continue to expand access to testing and information if we are going to effectively stop the spread of this virus and restore our communities, the vibrant, heartbeat of our city.”

The testing sites are part of a joint commitment by the Cuomo administration and SOMOS to reach members of the Latino communities who have historically been isolated by language, income and social status. SOMOS has been running trilingual testing sites since March and has already tested over 50,000 New Yorkers.

All of the sites are staffed by culturally competent family and community doctors who speak the same language as their patients and are capable of addressing cultural barriers to health care access that affect immigrant and undocumented New Yorkers.

SOMOS has also led a widespread effort to ensure New Yorkers have a hot meal during the crisis. SOMOS operates 15 food distribution centers across the city in partnership with World Central Kitchen and Maestro Cares Foundation providing a total of over 12,000 meals per day. In addition to fresh grab-and-go meals, SOMOS distributes fresh produce from local farmers markets and essential kitchen supplies and delivers meals to homebound individualsGovernor .