Mayor de Blasio announced today that beginning Thursday, March 19th, NYC Health + Hospitals will expand their COVID-19 testing capacity by 5,000 tests per day through a partnership with OPKO Health's BioReference Laboratories.
Under the agreement reached last night, NYC Health + Hospitals will begin sending tests to BioReference by Thursday. Results will be produced within 1-2 days, halving the current pace of turnaround from private reference labs.
"This expanded testing for H+H is critical to protecting the New Yorkers most at risk in this epidemic, especially people with chronic health conditions," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The new partnership between H+H and BioReference will get us the increased testing and faster results helping save lives."
"In support of the public health system as they provide healthcare to vulnerable and at-risk populations, BioReference is committed to prioritizing hospital patients suspected of COVID-19 infections and aid front-line physicians and healthcare providers to quickly and efficiently diagnose patients," said Jon R. Cohen, M.D., Executive Chairman of BioReference Laboratories. "In addition to the drive-through facilities, this collaboration is yet another example of how the private sector can assist with government agencies to help combat this epidemic."
Testing will be prioritized for those with serious illness at hospitals and health care facilities across NYC Health + Hospitals, frontline health care personnel and first responders. Those with mild illness should continue to stay home, practice social distancing, and consult their health care provider if their symptoms do not subside in 3-4 days.
Today, NYC Emergency Management sent Wireless Emergency Alerts to every cell phone in New York City in English and Spanish, asking every New Yorker to text COVID or COVIDESP (for Spanish alerts) to 692-692 to receive the latest developments around COVID-19 and City services and resources.
The City is also making robocalls to vulnerable New Yorkers who may not have cell phones, including seniors, NYCHA residents and others.