MANHATTAN (CN) — New York City is successfully manufacturing its own Covid-19 diagnostic test kits, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday, striving toward a threshold set by the governor to safely reopen the economy.
Thanks to a new partnership with the urgent care chain CityMD, which is administering about 6,000 tests per day in the five boroughs, the city conducts 20,000 Covid-19 diagnostic tests per day.
Announcing the figures at his daily press conference, de Blasio said the city will soon be able to conduct 50,000 tests per day, and eventually more.
Many of the tests are manufactured in the city after the federal government failed to answer de Blasio’s many calls for help, he added.
“The city's Economic Development Corporation got together, and I said to them from the beginning, ‘Throw away the rulebook, throw away the assumptions, even if we haven't built things here, find a way to make them right here in New York City,’” the mayor said. “And to the credit of everyone at the EDC, they took up that mission immediately.”
De Blasio noted that the 3D printing service Print Parts has been producing the test swabs, while the fluid for transporting samples comes from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, and a Brooklyn design lab called Collab helped design the kits.
“For the first time in our history, New York City is building and using its own test kits — homegrown New York City products, protecting New Yorkers,” he said.
The new test kits are in use as of Monday at the city’s public hospital testing sites, de Blasio said, adding that the city will produce more than 60,000 of the test kits per week by the week of June 1. To find a testing center near them, New Yorkers can go to nyc.gov/covidtest.
“This is about building the capacity to produce right here and to protect ourselves,” he said. “Now, we have to do it, because we learned we could not depend on the federal government.”
With CityMD’s 123 urgent-care locations, the city now counts more than 150 test sites, de Blasio proclaimed.
“Every time we increase the amount of available testing, it gets taken up quickly,” de Blasio said Monday.
As of Sunday, the city counted 190,408 confirmed cases and a total of 20,720 confirmed and probable deaths, though both those numbers are likely low due to a lack of testing.
The mayor said that as of Saturday, 11% of New Yorkers tested for Covid-19 tested positive. There’s a slight lag time on the city’s data.
Parts of upstate New York were cleared to begin a phased reopening process Friday under seven data-driven metrics set by the state. De Blasio said Monday he’s optimistic the city will get there in the first half of June.
“We've got to then make decisions on exactly which restrictions to loosen up, exactly how, and we have to be confident that ... we can hold the line,” he said. “We do not want to reduce restrictions and suddenly see an upsurge that puts us right back in a situation where you have to close down. So there's a real subtle balance that needs to be struck.”
Embattled Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot was notably absent from Monday’s press conference, after reports last week of a spat with the New York City Police Department over mask distribution. But some, including city councilwoman Carlina Rivera, have raised concerns that Barbot, a Latina, is being unfairly targeted.
Though Barbot is the head honcho at the city’s Department of Health, crucial to pandemic response, de Blasio waved off concerns about her absence from his press conferences of late.