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City Turns Attention To NYCHA Residents As More Coronavirus Testing Becomes Available

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As more coronavirus testing becomes available, the city is focusing on some of the most vulnerable communities.

The New York City Housing Authority is of particular concern.

Judy Vidal is a trained EMT, suited up to provide COVID-19 tests to those showing symptoms at the George Washington Houses in East Harlem.

"I assess the patient, take the vitals, get their history, get the demographic," Vidal said.

Vidal is part of Ready Responders, a 3-year-old health care company the state partnered with to provide testing in eight NYCHA complexes starting this week.

Justin Dangel is the CEO.

"There is no cost to the city, no cost to the state. No cost to NYCHA and each of the residents is covered with no cost to them," Dangel told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas.


In New York City, residents will receive fliers and a knock at their door from a nurse or EMT.

If they have coronavirus symptoms, they can get a test on the spot or make an appointment for someone to return.

Residents can also use a tablet to talk to a doctor to get what's equivalent to urgent care services right at their door for free.

"We're finally getting what we do deserve and need. We need the testing, we need to make sure that we're able to support ourselves, we need to be safe," one NYCHA resident said.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined a separate initiative that will add six more testing sites near NYCHA developments where residents will be prioritized.

The Cumberland Health Center in Brooklyn, Belvis Health Center in the Bronx and Gouverneur Health Center in Manhattan will provide testing starting Friday.

Those who test positive and can't socially distance at home can get a free hotel room.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

Starting next week, the city will also be distributing face coverings and gloves to all NYCHA residents. Seniors will also receive hand sanitizer and phone calls to check on their health.

When asked why NYCHA residents weren't prioritized much earlier, de Blasio said, "We just didn't have the amount of testing and the personnel and the PPEs to do testing on the community level the way we needed."

According to the Housing Authority, more than 250 employees have gotten sick and six have died.

It's unclear how many residents have already been impacted.

The threat is far from over.

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