Antibody testing shows coronavirus is still spreading in NYC’s minority communities

May 20, 2020

The coronavirus continues to spread in lower-income communities and communities of color in New York City, according to antibody test results released by the state on Wednesday. New York earlier this month partnered with Northwell Health and city churches to test residents of low-income neighborhoods, with 8,000 antibody tests conducted to date. According to preliminary data from those tests, 27 percent tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, compared to the city’s overall antibody rate of 19.9 percent.

“You tell me the ZIP codes that have the predominantly minority community, lower-income community, I will tell you the communities where you’re going to have a higher positive,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press briefing on Wednesday. “And you’re going to have increase spread and you’re going to have increased hospitalizations.”

The Bronx had the highest percentage of positive antibody tests at 34 percent of those tested, followed by Brooklyn at 29 percent, Queens at 25 percent, Manhattan at 20 percent, and Staten Island at 19 percent. The results were also broken down by ZIP code, looking at the positive rate and the gross new hospitalization rate per 100,000 people.

According to the data, the top ten most affected communities in NYC by COVID-19, when looking at the percentage of people who tested positive for antibodies and the hospitalization rate, are as follows:

  1. Morrisania, Bronx (43 percent positive)
  2. Brownsville, Brooklyn (41 percent positive)
  3. Pelham Gardens, Bronx (38 percent positive)
  4. Soundview, Bronx (38 percent positive)
  5. Hollis, Queens (35 percent positive)
  6. Crown Heights, Brooklyn (34 percent positive)
  7. Canarsie, Brooklyn (33 percent positive)
  8. Mott Haven, Bronx (33 percent positive)
  9. Longwood, Bronx (33 percent positive)
  10. Co-Op City, Bronx  (33 percent positive)

The state will target its virus-fighting strategies for these neighborhoods. The antibody testing program at churches will double to 44 faith-based sites and the state will partner with SOMOS Community Care to create testing for an additional 28 churches, for a total of 72 faith-based testing sites.

Cuomo said coronavirus testing will also increase at the city’s public housing developments, an initiative first launched last month. In partnership with Ready Responders, testing will be expanded from 8 NYCHA developments to 40 sites across the city. According to City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, more than 1,100 people who lived at a public housing development have died from the virus, as of Monday.

More outreach will be made to minority communities, including providing more personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. There will also be further public health education provided about the virus and how it spreads.

Cuomo’s announcement follows data released earlier this week by the city that shows a disparity in deaths caused by the virus among low-income and minority communities. Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to use every tool possible to fight this disparity.

“It’s painful because we’re talking about disparities based on race and class,” de Blasio said on Tuesday during a press briefing. “We’re talking about both ethnic and economic disparities that have plagued our city, our nation and once again, we see that those who are suffering the most, lower income folks, folks in communities of color, folks in the immigrant communities.”


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