City leaders demand more testing in NYCHA after COVID-19 data released

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NEW YORK — Local leaders on Tuesday demanded testing in all New York City Housing Authority developments in response to new data released by the city.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel and Councilmember Robert Cornegy stood unified outside the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvseant. According to numbers released Monday, the Marcy Houses has the most confirmed COVID-19 deaths in NYCHA, with 21 lives lost.

“We are outraged but not surprised,” Adams said.

Adams, Ampry-Samuel and Cornegy are asking the city to immediately do contact tracing and testing in every NYCHA development across the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday the number of infections in NYCHA is consistent with what’s happening across the city and they are expanding testing.

“The number of people infected by the coronavirus in public housing appears to be almost exactly consistent with the amount of people in public housing and their presence in the population in New York City. The death number is higher,” de Blasio said.

As of May 11, 943 NYCHA residents have died of COVID-19, according to the city. An additional 298 likely died of coronavirus, but the cause of death hasn’t been confirmed. There have been 7,818 cases of COVID-19 among the approximately 400,000 NYCHA residents.

NYCHA Chair Greg Russ echoed what de Blasio said.

“It is a tragedy that we have lost members of our NYCHA community to COVID-19,” he added.

Willie Mae Williams lives at Grant Houses in Morningside Heights; the development has had more cases than any other NYCHA complex. She tested positive for COVID-19 in early March. Williams wants see the city do more outreach.

“It’s alarming,” Williams said. “You don’t know who you are going to catch it from. We need more resources. We need more testing in our neighborhood.”

According to the overall numbers, Bronx NYCHA developments were hit the hardest by COVID-19. Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel said in addition to more testing, she wants more wellness checks for seniors living in NYCHA.

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