The cavalry is caught up in red tape.
Last month Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a Midwestern company would be sending 50,000 coronavirus tests per week to the Big Apple.
“I’m sure New Yorkers wouldn’t have thought that the cavalry would come from Carmel, Indiana, but it has,” de Blasio boasted during an April 14 press conference about the deal with test maker Aria Diagnostics.
Over two weeks later the city received just 25,000 of the promised 100,000 tests from what de Blasio described as a “reliable partner”– after blasting the feds for failing to provide the materials.
“We need to be able to test everybody who is symptomatic or asymptotic. If they want a test, they should be able to get a test,” Councilman Stephen Levin (Brooklyn-D) told The Post.
“They just announced yesterday they were doing them in Los Angeles. We need to be able to do that here in order to safely reopen New York City,” Levin said.
Mayoral Press Secretary Freddi Goldstein claimed the tests are delayed due to “unforeseen supply chain issues,” an explanation that was rejected by an Aria spokeswoman.
The company rep, Susana Duarte la Suarez, told The Post said there’s a technical dispute over whether the city will accept saline as a transport medium for the tests.
In addition to the Indiana tests, de Blasio still hasn’t said which local universities and labs will collaborate to produce another promised 50,000 tests per week, even though he said that homegrown effort would start in May.
“We are on track with the mayor’s commitment to launch a homegrown testing effort and will have more to say soon,” another City Hall rep, Avery Cohen, told The Post.
“With the world of testing changing by the minute, we’re vastly increasing the availability of faster self-swab testing and are actively working with Aria to ensure their kits can be used at more labs across the city, so we can have the maximum number of tests run at the same time,” she said.
Meanwhile just over 5,000 people in the hardest hit zip codes have been tested at walk-up community sites, despite de Blasio’s vow to prioritize them, as the city’s public hospitals have dipped into the Aria supply.
“The test kits were always intended to furnish our broader testing capacity,” said Cohen.
“NYC Health + Hospitals, a healthcare provider, is using them to test people across their hospitals, clinics, the testing sites, and their healthcare workforce,” Cohen said.
A total of 13,000 New Yorkers are getting coronavirus tests each week, Cohen added. They are still reserved for elderly New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions.
De Blasio pledged during a press conference Thursday that the number would increase to over 40,000 by mid-May even though he’d put the total at 100,000 in April.
The mayor has acknowledged the city has to test tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people per day before it can reopen.
“I don’t know what the right number is,” Levin said.
“I just know that we need to be able to have the tests on hand to be able to test everybody multiple times. It’s not just you test once and go along your merry way.
“If we’re going to do contact tracing and somebody has 12 contacts that show up you need to be able to test all of those 12 people immediately. And that has to happen for every single case that comes up and that has to happen over and over again until we have a vaccine,” Levin said.
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