City health officials have decided to open up a slew of new coronavirus testing sites after a Post report last week showed how they were using race to decide how to allocate coronavirus testing resources.
Minority Councilor Joe Borelli – who represents Staten Island’s conservative and predominantly white South Shore – credited Mayor Adams with quickly fixing the issue.
“Fortunately, the current administration has turned the tide a bit and started opening testing sites in my district,” Borelli told The Post. “It was a mistake made by Blasio’s Health Department and not necessarily an error that is perpetuated by Adams Health Department in perpetuity.”
The lawmaker said at least three new test sites in the city had opened his district and he had already received a message of gratitude from the president of the district Vito Fossella.
Things have also improved for Democratic Councilor Bob Holden, who said his district of Middle Village had seen the Omicron push for weeks without a city testing center.
There is now a testing site in his own office and another at the New Life Methodist Church in Woodhaven. But Holden always said things weren’t going fast enough.
“We immediately need additional testing sites in town, home testing kits and PPE in my district. We still don’t have a micro-site commitment, we don’t even have a mobile
sites, ”he said in a pleading letter to Mayor Adams on Friday.
Adam Shrier, spokesperson for NYC Health and Hospitals, – who is in charge of testing, but works under Department of Health guidelines – said the agency has decided to quickly expand testing facilities.
The city’s race-based policy came to light after officials from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said testing at Borelli’s office in his district was slow so the city could prioritize neighborhoods flagged by the City’s Racial Inclusion and Equity Task Force. The working group, created by the Blasio administration in 2020, identified 31 neighborhoods to receive “priority” attention from the city.
“Using facts and data to guide our response, we proudly injected resources into the neighborhoods that sparked this pandemic with the least and needed it most,” said Shrier – a former Daily News reporter.
The policy – and a similar policy that takes race into account in the distribution of life-saving covid treatments – has been widely criticized, including by doctors who say race does not biologically factor into COVID deaths.
“I was deeply disturbed to see New York City and the state change the guidelines to a race-based approach when deciding how to distribute and to whom to administer these life-saving treatments. This policy is simply wrong and should be reversed so that an individual’s health is a priority, regardless of race, ”Staten Island GOP Representative Nicole Malliotakis said in a statement.
Sayville Assembly Member Jarett Gandolfo called racial preferences “inhuman” and “un-American” and sent a letter to State Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett demanding that new treatment guidelines and that race-based approaches be repealed.
“Any law that discriminates against people on the basis of immutable characteristics such as race should never be left out, but to deny the treatment people need to live according to their race is particularly despicable,” he said. he said in a press release.