Brooklyn gets three new COVID-19 testing sites

covid-19 testing sites
The state opened a COVID-19 testing site in Flatbush on April 11.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A COVID-19 testing site has opened in Flatbush, and two more will open in Brownsville and East New York as part of an effort to help minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“We are going to increase testing and open new testing sites to collect more data in African-American and Latino communities so we can better understand why this virus kills and has higher fatality rates in certain communities, and what we can do to address it,” announced Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 9.

Black people account for up to 28 percent of coronavirus-related deaths in New York City, although they make up only 22 percent of its population, according to BuzzFeed News

The Flatbush facility, located in the Sears Parking Lot at 2307 Beverly Rd., has been offering drive-through testing since its opening on Saturday. The state-operated site, which is appointment-only, is prioritizing residents who are at-risk or experiencing symptoms, officials said.

Later this week, state officials will open a walk-in testing site in Brownsville, according to a spokesman for the New York State Health Department, who said that the agency is still nailing down its exact location.

The new facilities are two of nine state Health Department testing sites statewide, five of which are New York City. All sites are appointment-only: To schedule a test, call (888) 364–3065.

On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio followed in Cuomo’s footsteps when he announced the opening of five city-operated COVID-19 testing facilities in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. 

“We see a clear disparity in the impact, who’s been hit hardest, communities of color, lower income communities, immigrant communities, folks who are vulnerable already because they haven’t had the health care they needed and deserve throughout their life,” the mayor said in a press conference on April 12. “So by the end of next week, we will create community testing sites and these are targeted to have the biggest impact.”

De Blasio’s plan includes one testing center in East New York, which will most likely operate out of Gotham Health, East New York on Pitkin Avenue by Pennsylvania Avenue. Elderly residents or locals with pre-existing conditions from the community will be prioritized for testing, the mayor said. 

City officials have not yet announced the East New York site’s opening day, or how residents can make appointments. 

The new city-operated testing sites are the first COVID-19 testing facilities the mayor’s office has opened for patients outside public hospitals. In late March, the mayor shut down all appointment-only testing facilities, citing a lack of personal protective gear for staff, and mandated that testing only be available for walk-in patients who needed to be hospitalized.

The change came only hours after two testing sites in Coney Island opened their doors.