NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is expanding its antibody testing and telemedicine, as well as homeless and domestic violence outreach, the mayor says.

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled several initiatives during Thursday’s coronavirus briefing.

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He said the city is opening five antibody testing sites next week in Morrisania, East New York, Upper Manhattan, Concord and Long Island City. Each site will complete 1,000 tests a day, aiming for 70,000 this month and 70,000 in early June.

These are in addition to 140,000 antibody tests for health care workers and first responders being provided by the federal government.


“The goal is to focus on people in the general area of these test sites. We want to be very clear,” de Blasio said. “There’s so many people in this city, anytime you set up a test site, tens of thousands of people live very nearby. We want to focus on where the test sites are, not having to have people travel a long way to get to these tests. But we’ll keep adding sites as we go along.”

The mayor said a hotline where residents can schedule appointments will be available Friday.

Those selected will be asked questions about demographics and employment, and provide a blood sample. Their results will be available with 24 to 48 hours.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

De Blasio also shared an update on the efforts to increase telemedicine in the public health system. He said 90,000 people have already taken advantage of the free Phone-A-Clinician hotline (844-NYC-4NYC) and more than 90% did not have to leave their homes for care.

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“This means that anybody, anytime you need to, can pick up that phone and get answers, and never leave their home, never have to go through the hassle or the challenges that come with going outside,” he said. “We keep telling everyone ‘stay inside to the maximum extent possible.’ Therefore, telemedicine is part of how we give people confidence they can get the help they need without ever leaving their home.”

Additionally, health care providers have made 60,000 televisits – meaning they virtually checked in with their existing patients.

“We believe that at least 80% of people who need help throughout clinics, for now, can do it through televisits. It will be an aggressive program by the clinics to reach their patients, check in with them, make sure they get whatever appointments they need,” he said. “Of course, if someone needs to be seen in person, they still can be. But the goal is to the maximum extent possible, lean on televisits, reach a lot more people a lot more quickly.”

The mayor reported the city’s outreach teams were able to engage 361 homeless people on the second night of subway closures. He said 218 accepted help, with 196 going to shelters and 22 to hospitals.

“When these kinds of numbers mean that many human beings who had lost their way now get a chance to live a better life, I think this is also something that could lead to a whole different approach in the future that will make life in this city better for everyone, particularly homeless New Yorkers,” he said.

De Blasio also announced a new COVID-19 response task force on domestic and gender-based violence. He encouraged anyone who needs a safe place to stay to call the city’s free hotline at 800-621-4673.

“There are some people who deal with a very different reality at home, where home is not a safe place. It is a painful reality and it has been before this crisis,” he said. “We’ve seen some troubling trends that we must address aggressively.”

The city may also start limiting entry at some parks the mayor says lend themselves to overcrowding. More details will be announced Friday.

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The mayor concluded with a reminder about National Correction Officers Week, calling them “heroes who don’t get their due.”