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Lower-income, minority groups in NYC worst hit by COVID-19, testing results show

(Xinhua)    13:28, May 21, 2020

NEW YORK, May 20 (Xinhua) -- New York City's deep-rooted wealth and racial disparities are highlighted by the pattern of the COVID-19 spread, as people in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color are suffering the most, according to city and state data.

As shown in preliminary results of antibody tests of 8,000 people in New York City, the Bronx Borough, where a majority of residents are African Americans and Latino Americans, has the highest COVID-19 positive rate of 34 percent, compared with a citywide average of 19.9 percent, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at Wednesday's briefing.

Ranking by zip codes, the top 10 highest-infected neighborhoods are located in the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, home to most of the city's minority groups.

The highest rate was recorded in Morrisania, the Bronx, where 43 percent of residents tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. All the other nine neighborhoods had a positive rate of over 33 percent.

Moreover, the coronavirus's spread is continuing in those communities, and "that's where the new cases are coming from," said Cuomo.

To combat the disparities, Cuomo said the state will partner with the state's largest healthcare provider Northwell Health to double church-based testing sites to 44 locations in those hardest-hit neighborhoods.

The state will also expand the testing capacity in 40 locations of New York City Public Housing facilities, where social distancing is hard to be maintained due to limited room space.

One more region of the state, the Capitol Region, stepped into phase one of reopening on Wednesday, leaving downstate regions -- New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson, the only regions that are not qualified for reopening yet.

Meanwhile, statewide religious gatherings with up to 10 people will be allowed as of Thursday, said Cuomo, who added that participants should wear masks and practice social distancing.

It came one day after the governor announced that Memorial Day ceremonies with the same scale will be permitted to happen next week in the state.

"I understand their desire to get to religious ceremonies as soon as possible," said Cuomo. "But we need to find out how to do it and do it safely and do it smartly."

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city would offer free COVID-19 tests at nursing homes starting next week, due to the large number of infections there.

Some 250 people have been sent to work at nursing homes to fill the vacancies left by hundreds of staff members who have got infected with COVID-19. The remaining staffing requests would be fulfilled by the end of next week, said the mayor.

De Blasio said the city has procured enough personal protective equipment to get through May, including N95 masks, face shields, goggles, gloves, and surgical gowns.

"All of those items are now in sufficient supply to get us through the month of May to protect our first responders and our healthcare heroes," he said in a confident tone.

Though summer's almost here, the city's beaches will remain closed for a while because "we are unlike any place else," said the mayor.

"We are the epicenter of this crisis nationally, the most populous city in the United States of America ... To get to our beaches, a vast majority of people are going to take subways and buses, that creates crowding there and then crowding on the beaches. There's such an obvious set of reasons why we couldn't open our beaches," he explained.

Governor Cuomo has said that state beaches are allowed to open on Memorial Day weekend starting May 22, but decisions are left for local governments.

As to this year's celebration of Independence Day on July 4, the mayor said it would be different, but still involve the firework show as a tradition.

Every year, the celebrations attract tens of thousands of New Yorkers who would crowd on the riverside on the night to see the spectacular fireworks shot from a fleet of ships.

"Whatever we do is going to be about safety first. It may be bigger, it may be smaller, but we'll have a lot more to say when we get closer," said de Blasio. "Do not assume it will look like what we've done in the past."

By Wednesday night, the state of New York has reported over 354,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 28,000 deaths, remaining as the hardest-hit state in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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