David Birdoff is back home from a trip and getting tested for COVID-19 is one of the first things on his to-do list. He said he’s treating COVID-19 with the same caution today that he did when the pandemic started in 2020.
With infection rates rising, he’s worried that others may not be taking the same precautions.
He said the city’s move to close some testing sites in the coming days may backfire.
“It concerns me if sites are closing because when I speak to friends in other cities they don’t have pop-up sites like this they haven’t in New York. They’re amazed by the procedures in New York, like proof of vaccination, wearing masks,” said Birdoff.
According to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the number of positive COVID-19 tests were around 3% back in April. Fast forward to this week and the average COVID-19 positive test rate has jumped to more than 13%.
Commissioner Dr. Ashwan Vasan addressed the increase while celebrating the groundbreaking of a new public health lab at Harlem Hospital.
“We’ve got new variants in our city and country. They are presenting an ever increasing share of the sequential variance and that’s driving cases up. The question is whether we are reaching a new plateau, and is this just where we will be for some time or whether this is the beginning of a more prolonged increase. I think it’s still too early to tell,” said Dr. Vasan.
Commissioner Vasan said that while some in-person sites will be closing as early as next week, at-home testing kits and other monitoring allows the city to track health conditions.
“We have a good snapshot of where the pandemic is. The volume of clinical testing is still robust enough to give us that picture and at-home testing is actually putting more control in the hands of New Yorkers to be able to make safe decisions,” Vasan said.
Jahmain Scott, who has been working as a COVID-19 tester since January, said he’s worried that stripping down resources could reverse the progress the city has made.
“I definitely am testing people and see a lot more positives coming in. COVID is COVID. Even if there’s treatment, they’re still no exact cure. So, I would still treat it the same way as if when we first encountered it,” Scott said.
The testing site at Harlem Hospital will remain open and Scott said the site he works at is not closing.
It’s recommended you check online or call 311 before heading to a testing site to ensure that it is still available.