City to expand testing after Sunset Park sees spike in COVID-19 cases

sunset park
The Sunset Park community is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases, the mayor said Monday.
REUTERS/Cooper Neill

The city will expand testing in Sunset Park after a 228 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the neighborhood, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday. 

The mayor said the city’s Test and Trace Corp will “saturate” the area with testing by knocking on doors, upping canvassing efforts, and increasing the number of robocalls in the 11220 ZIP Code that encourage residents to get tested.

Officials will also bring two mobile testing vans to Sunset Park, which has a population of more than 130,000 people, according to a 2018 survey. The first vehicle will be stationed at 44th Street and Sixth Avenue from 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday to Friday this week and all of next week. The other testing unit will be parked outside of the Brooklyn Herald Gospel Center at 809 44th St. off of Eighth Avenue on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. 

Both vans will be able to administer between 80 and 100 tests a day, the mayor said. The city will also increase the number of available tests at Brooklyn Army Terminal, the borough’s rapid point-of-care testing site, and will search for more potential brick and mortar testing sites in the area to expand partnerships with existing clinics.

One primary care provider, Advantage Care Physicians, has already pledged to provide more appointment-only testing in the area, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. 

City officials say the the reason for the uptick in cases is unclear.

“In a way, the ZIP code-wide rate was like the beep of a metal detector that told us where to dig,” Dr. Chokshi explained at de Blasio’s Aug. 12 press conference. “Now that we are getting deeper, we’re finding what we’re looking for and are able to help the people we’ve identified. So we’ll turbocharge our activity in the days ahead.” 

More than 3,300 New Yorkers have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Sunset Park over the last two weeks, Dr. Choski added. 

Since July 29, there have been 104 confirmed cases in Sunset Park with 80 people completing the intake process for tracing, relaying 130 contacts, according to Chief Equity Officer of the Test and Trace Corp. Annabel Palma. Out of those contacts, 82 percent were other people living under the same roof.

On Aug. 10 across the city, 81 people were admitted to a public hospital with possible coronavirus symptoms, 296 patients suffering from virus complications were in public hospital intensive care units, and 1 percent of New Yorkers receiving a coronavirus test tested positive for the virus, according to City Hall’s daily indicators.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.