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Mayor: 'Huge Outreach Effort Underway' To Fight COVID Surge On Staten Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Staten Island, New York City's largest COVID-19 hot spot, welcomed new testing sites Thursday.

There are 10 new locations, including a rapid-testing site at the St. George Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry.

"I'm scared. I get on the boat every day. It's crowded. They don't have social distancing on the boat," New Brighton resident Roberto Huertas told CBS2's John Dias. "If everyone would come out and get tested, things would get better."

The rapid test uses a shorter swab, and patients get their results in as little as 15 minutes. Testing is free, regardless of health insurance or documentation status.

WATCH: Mayor, Staten Island Borough President Share COVID Update 

The new sites come in response to a growing number of cases in the area, where the infection rate is averaging above 2.5%.

"Huge outreach effort underway now. A lot of information being provided, masks being provided, more and more testing," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. "The kinds of approaches that have worked time and again in recent months in other parts of the city can and will work in Staten Island."

"We are a unique lot. We can be abrupt. I swear we would cut off grandma to get 10 feet ahead on Highland Boulevard during traffic. But we are at our best in crunch moments -- post-9/11, post-Sandy. The selfishness that we have is stripped away," Staten Island Borough President James Steven Oddo added. "We are quickly approaching, if not at, that moment, Staten Islanders. Let's rise up to the occasion yet again."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo labeled Staten Island a yellow zone micro-cluster Wednesday and set new regulations across the state.

Starting Friday, private gatherings will be limited to 10 people, unless they are from the same household.

However, Staten Island Republican Councilman Joe Borelli plans to disobey the Democrat's new rule.

"The governor won't affect our Thanksgiving plans. We're going to be about 12 people as of yesterday, we're going to be about 12 people as of tomorrow," he told CBS2.

Many of Borelli's constituents in the COVID testing line said his politics are messing with their health, Dias reported.

"Pay attention and listen to the science. If they're telling you this, they're telling you this for a reason," one person said.

"All it's been has been politics," another person added. "It isn't for the good of the people."


Also starting Friday, gyms have to close by 10 p.m. statewide.

Bars and restaurants must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. They can still do takeout and delivery overnight, but cannot sell alcohol.

Some fear they won't survive with the new rules.

"Where are these people going to go if they want to hang out or enjoy time with their friends? Not somewhere as controlled as here," said Jason Clark, operating partner of Hold Fast restaurant in Hell's Kitchen.

Staten Island Catholic schools have switched to fully remote, effective immediately.


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