NYC Expands Hyper-Local COVID Outreach in Sunset Park After Uptick in Cases – NBC New York

What to Know

  • The Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park is at the center of a hyper-local COVID-19 outreach campaign following a slight uptick in positive cases, city officials said Wednesday.
  • The mayor called the slight uptick “a warning light” and because of this the city will start a campaign involving doorknocking, phone calls and other activities through local organizations to get the word out on testing in the Sunset Park neighborhood, which has roughly 38,000 households.
  • The 228 positive cases out of 3,300 neighborhood residents tested in the last two weeks is a 6.9% positivity rate, compared to the citywide average of around 1%.

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park is at the center of a hyper-local COVID-19 outreach campaign following a slight uptick in positive cases, city officials said Wednesday.

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio the city found the uptick by focusing locally on the neighborhood.

“We know that we have to focus very, very locally because when we see a challenge the idea is to drill down and find out if we can identify the specifics of it by doing more and more outreach, more and more testing,” de Blasio said. “And when we see any kind of trend that’s unusual that’s when you double down, that’s when you throw in more focus, more resources. So right now we are looking at Sunset Park in Brooklyn… right now we are seeing an uptick, it’s over a very limited period of time, it’s a very limited number of cases, but we found it by doing exceptionally focused testing, what we call hyper-local testing.”

The mayor called the slight uptick “a warning light” and because of this the city will start a campaign involving doorknocking, phone calls and other activities through local organizations to get the word out on testing in the Sunset Park neighborhood, which has roughly 38,000 households.

“We now have a sign that something going on that we want to know more about, we want to delve into further,” he said. “And, the way we do that is by getting out into the community deeply and communicating with people at the grassroots – literally the knocking on doors, talking to the local organizations and leaders with a simple message: everyone needs to get tested. We want to get everyone tested as quickly as possible to see what is going on and if there is something further that we need to do.”

According to Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the city has set up criteria to help break the chain of transmission “through a hyper local approach though outreach, testing and enrollment in services.”

“The first neighborhood targeted with the Tremont section of the Bronx, now followed by Sunset Park. In these areas we’ve launched pop-up testing sites and community days of action,” Chokshi said. “We’ve also enlisted key community partners, faith leaders and primary care doctors to activate their networks, drawing community members to connect people to interventions that will keep communities safe.”

According to the commissioner, after every positive test the health department has resources navigators standing by “to immediately connect people to services that will allow them to safely take care of themselves, including foods, prescriptions and hotel services.”

Chokshi went on to say: “In two weeks in Sunset Park we have tested over 3,300 New Yorkers, while the data we have thus far is limited the early returns support our targeted approach and show that we are drawing in the people who will most benefit from those test services. This far we have identified 228 positive cases.”

The 228 positive cases out of 3,300 neighborhood
residents tested in the last two weeks is a 6.9% positivity rate, compared to
the citywide average of around 1%.

The city is wondering if the high percentage stems from
relatively few testing sites there.

Due to the number of positive cases, two additional mobile testing sites, which can do 80 to 100 tests per day, will be brought to the neighborhood.

The new mobile testing units in Sunset Park will be located at:

  • Corner of 44th Street and 6th Avenue: from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Aug. 11 – Aug. 15 and Aug. 17 to Aug. 21.
  • Brooklyn Herald Gospel Center, 809 44th Street: from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15 and Aug. 16

Additionally, Chokshi said that starting Monday the health department will extend its rapid point of care testing in this neighborhood at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

“We’ll look for additional brick and mortar options for testing sites and partner with local healthcare providers to maximize resources. That includes urgent care clinics….and we will be stepping up our outreach,” he said. “We’ll carry out robocalls in the 11220 zip code, flyer, doorknock and canvas the area. The Sunset Park community is going to see even more of us in the days ahead….catching those sparks before they ignite will help us prevent a resurgence.”

Anabel Palma, the chief equity officer of the city’s Test and Trace Corps, reminded the public that testing is free regardless of medical insurance or immigration status.

“Together we will lower the transmission, stay ahead of COVID and protect the most vulnerable,” Palma said.