NYC Mayor de Blasio: Free Antibody Testing to be Provided to New Yorkers

NYC Mayor de Blasio: Free Antibody Testing to be Provided to New Yorkers

NYC is set to ramp up antibody testing in the coming days and beyond. The announcement came today during Mayor de Blasio’s daily COVID-19 Press Conference. Testing would be free of charge and is to launch next week with as many as 5,000 tests per day and 70,000 over the first two weeks. This is all part of the rapid and massive push to take the city’s testing abilities to large scale levels with the ultimate goal of testing every New Yorker.

The tests, which would be by appointment, can be arranged beginning Friday, May 8 through a dedicated hotline. Individual test results could be gotten within 24-48 hours of testing. The initial testing sites would be in Morrisania in the Bronx; East New York in Brooklyn; Upper Manhattan, Concord in Staten Island and Long Island.

Yesterday, the Mayor’s office announced how free antibody testing would be provided to first responders and healthcare workers through two partnerships with NYC Health + Hospitals, CDC, and the U.S. Department of Health.

The Mayor’s words on Tuesday, May 5, ” Last night I spoke with Admiral Brett Giroir, who is the Head of the U.S. Public Health Service and Assistant Secretary at H + H – sorry, HHS, my apology – HHS. And he was abundantly clear the federal government is ready to move with antibody testing for the heroes here in New York City, any first responder or health care worker who wants to take advantage of it, it will be made available for free. This initiative will be up and running by next week, maybe even sooner, but certainly by next week the goal is to test 140,000 of our heroes and this testing will be done at hospitals, firehouses police stations and correction facilities. So, this is very, very important, it’s going to give us much more ability to let all of our heroes know what’s happened in terms of exposure to this disease in their own lives. It’s going to be really helpful in terms of finding more donors for the plasma treatments that we’re very hopeful about. It’s going to give a lot of information to the federal government and to us about what’s happening out there with this disease that’s going to help us fight this disease further. So, this is a step in the right direction for sure.”

At the beginning of this week, I asked the Mayor directly about Governor Cuomo’s previous declaration. On April 25, the Governor clearly outlined an expansion on the diagnostic testing criteria. All essential workers including frontline and healthcare workers as well as those who work in stores, shops, markets, airlines, delivery, and within/through other essential service would be eligible regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not.

I asked the Mayor to expand upon that and how any outreach program might take place. I also indicated how I’m familiar with numerous essential workers who’ve not heard a word from the city or state in that regard.

The Mayor clearly didn’t understand that which I was referring to. He brought up antibody testing instead of the diagnostic testing which the Governor had detailed over a week ago. I’ve since been in touch with his office and they’ve assured me that the Mayor was aware of the Governor’s announcement. They merely left it at that.

Based upon the messages repeatedly broadcast from the Mayor and his office, it would seem like the push for antibody testing has been a strong and determined one. It’s quite possible that the Governor has changed the state’s route and approach. But then, that wouldn’t explain away the rest of New York State. The Mayor’s announcement today only applies to our city.

As both leaders have stated many times in the past, the game-plan can and will always be changing. What was appropriate at one point could transform into something else at a moment’s notice. Antibody testing has been a part of the their vocabulary on a nearly daily basis now. It could very well be that, if the resources allow (kits, labs, testing components), antibody will simply be the new norm. But that’s only one guess. I’m thinking there’ll be another related announcement from the Governor very soon.

For now, diagnostic testing makes up the bulk of that being carried out. Yesterday, the Mayor was asked about the daily numbers of diagnostic tests. He’d state that there were 13,000-14,000 tests being done every day and how the aim is to get to 30 – 50,000 per day, and even higher.

“Now the antibody testing is coming into play now more and more and that’s certainly helpful. So the numbers that you and I are talking about, the PCR test, the diagnostic test, which still I think are the single most valuable tool we have in a test and trace program, but even with the imperfections of antibody testing, we’re going to use that information. It’s going to contribute to what we do in terms of testing, tracing, isolating, quarantining, making decisions about how individuals can engage their workplace or not. It’s another piece of evidence we’re going to use. “