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First bilingual walk-in COVID-19 testing site opens at Washington Heights

Posted at 7:22 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 08:00:00-04

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — Rates of infection and death continue to skyrocket in the epicenter of New York's Latino community in Washington Heights.

Area leaders are fighting COVID-19 with the first bilingual walk-in testing site, addressing the need to test and provide health necessities to residents.

According to data from SOMOS, a network of nearly 2,500 doctors, Latinos, African Americans and other communities of color are dying at twice the rate of white communities.

About 66% of Latinos in the U.S. have difficulty finding medicine, food and household supplies, while 86% are concerned local hospitals will not have enough supplies to treat the pandemic.

Culturally competent medical teams, who speak the same language as those getting tested, will operate the new facility, which will test more than 50 New Yorkers a day, another step in slowing the spread of the virus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there's a great responsibility to help those struggling, including people in low income communities.

"High concentration of people in one place. Many people in the small lobby, many people in the elevator, many people in the hallways, a higher number of people in the apartment."

The state's newly launched pilot program will expand health care and testing to residents of New York City's public housing.

It's unclear how many of NYCHA's approximately 400,000 residents have died from coronavirus.

"That's where the virus spreads. We're going to set up a test program in NYCHA where we're going to have on site health services," Cuomo said while ensuring New Yorkers, no matter where they live, have health care services, including diagnostic testing.

The governor also announced 500,000 cloth masks and hand sanitizer will be distributed to the public housing community.

Those who would like to make an appointment can call 1-888-364-3065.