(MINEOLA, NY) April 23, 2020 - Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced new coronavirus testing sites in partnership with Long Island Federally Qualified Health Centers in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Curran also announced the allocation of $1 million in federal CARES funds to bolster local food banks that have been hit hard by the need that the disease has caused. The new outdoor Nassau County testing facilities, located in New York State’s largest village, Hempstead, and second largest village, Freeport, are open for testing hundreds of patients per day regardless of insurance, immigration status or ability to pay.
“We are urging those with underlying health conditions to pay extra attention to how they feel and get tested if they show any symptoms,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “Health disparities have always existed in access and outcome, but now this crisis is shining a bright light on how unacceptable it has become.”
Earlier this month, the New York State Department of Health released data indicating that approximately 19 percent of African Americans in Nassau County have succumbed to COVID-19, yet comprise only 11 percent of the County’s population. The disproportionately negative impact of the coronavirus on African American and Hispanic communities has been reported in cities and states across the nation.
“While this service is available to everyone, we are striving to increase healthcare access and COVID-19 testing directly to communities where fatality from this terrible disease is more likely to occur,” said Curran. “We are one Nassau; we help whenever a community is in need.”
The County plans to open another outdoor testing site in Elmont next week and is funding additional food distribution sites in Hempstead. Approximately 1,000 families were fed in Hempstead Village through County efforts to increase food supplies.
“We are extremely happy that increased COVID-19 testing is being done in communities of color,” said Executive Director of Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs Lionel Chitty. “With additional testing being done in Hempstead, Freeport and soon to commence in Elmont, these hardest hit areas will be receiving the additional services they need during this crisis. We take the concerns of our constituents seriously. This was relayed to us as a major issue and it is being addressed. We work diligently to continue assisting our constituents and look forward to their input. We will get through this together.”
Residents wishing to be tested do not have to be registered with Long Island Federally Qualified Health Centers, but will be required to provide information about their symptoms when making an appointment by calling 516-396-7500. At the end of every test, patients will be given a box of food, as well as information on how to care for themselves and isolate to protect other members of their households from contracting the disease.
“We are most appreciative of County Executive Curran providing these testing sites in Hempstead and Freeport in conjunction with Long Island Federally Qualified Health Centers,” said George Siberon, Executive Director of Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association. “With data coming out showing that these are two of the hardest hit areas in Nassau, I’m happy that County Executive Curran responded with more testing. It’s important for anyone with symptoms to call the phone number and set up an appointment as soon as possible for testing.”
Laura Curran was the first Nassau County Executive to appoint a Director of Health Equity last year in order to help address inequalities in the healthcare system and improve access to critical care.