May 20, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined a new plan today to combat coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes across the five boroughs.
The city will offer onsite COVID-19 testing, additional personnel at all 169 nursing homes in New York City beginning next week. It will also create an outbreak response team with members of the health department to control coronavirus infections at nursing homes.
Nursing homes have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has killed more than 3,000 nursing home residents just in New York City — including 916 residents in Queens homes, as of yesterday.
“This crisis has clearly been so tough on the oldest New Yorkers, and it has shown us, once again, we have to redouble our efforts to help those who are most vulnerable,” de Blasio said at City Hall. “And some of the folks who have had the toughest time [are] our seniors who live in nursing homes.”
The city will provide the resources needed so all 169 nursing homes will be collectively able to test up to 3,000 people per day. This is in addition to any of their existing testing capacity provided by New York State.
“As many test kits as the nursing home needs, we will provide,” de Blasio said, adding that the city will continue to provide testing to nursing homes for as long as necessary.
“If this needs to go on for months and months, we will continue for months and months, whatever it takes,” he said. “As long as we’re fighting this crisis, we will make sure that all nursing homes have the testing capacity they need in New York City.”
The city will also provide personnel to nursing homes, where staff members are out sick with COVID-19 or need additional support.
“Anyone who tests positive who works in a nursing home has to stay away for 14 days. You’re going to have staffing shortages,” de Blasio said. “We are committed, the city of New York is committed to filling those gaps, to making sure there’s enough personnel for every nursing home.”
The city has already placed 240 additional personnel in nursing homes citywide and will continue to do so to meet the goal of 600 personnel total.
Lastly, the Department of Health has created 10 outbreak response teams which will be deployed to nursing homes and other congregate settings to help control outbreaks. Each team will be led by an epidemiologist and have mental health and infection control specialists as members.