Coronavirus testing is being ramped up in several Long Island minority communities that that have been hit hard by the pandemic, officials said.
Suffolk County officials have deployed mobile testing sites in Huntington Station, Brentwood, and Riverhead, which were deemed COVID-19 hot spots. And Nassau County officials beefed up testing at federally qualified health centers Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Roosevelt, Westbury, and Oceanside.
“These hot spot testing sites give us the opportunity to message directly to the community,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
As of Friday, Brentwood had the most cases of any one community on LI with 1,526 cases. Also in Suffolk, Central Islip had 767, Huntington Station had 705, and Riverhead had 92. In Nassau, Hempstead had the most coronavirus cases in that county with 808, followed by Elmont with 492, and Freeport with 452.
“There is a disparity in the African-American and Hispanic communities,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
Multiple factors were to blame, including a language barrier that has made it difficult to express the need for social distancing, and the fact that many residents in the communities are essential workers who are unable to telecommute, officials said.
Across New York State, 27 percent of people who died of coronavirus were African-Americans, 25 percent were Hispanic, 15 percent were Asian, and seven percent were white. Officials blamed the higher-than-average coronavirus fatalities on the higher-than-average rate of underlying health issues in minority communities that prove to be fatal complications of the virus, such as diabetes.
“We’ve been very aggressive in those communities,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of the LI hot spots, noting the state has sent additional resources to the counties to help in those areas.
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