ALBANY — The Big Apple’s public housing tenants will finally get a much-needed boost battling the coronavirus pandemic as state officials promised to deliver face masks, hand sanitizer and provide more testing.
“We have a responsibility to get the assistance we need to people in low-income communities,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday at his daily press briefing.
Eight public housing complexes across four boroughs will have access to COVID-19 testing this week, including the nation’s largest complex — Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City.
Other developments include Brooklyn’s Brevoort Houses, The Bronx’s Highbridge Houses, Andrew Jackson Houses and Edenwald Houses, the Washington Houses in Manhattan and the Hammel Houses and Red Fern Houses in Queens.
An at-home health care provider, Ready Responders, will provide the testing, which will be free for uninsured residents.
“Our hope is that we’ll be able to provide access to care to a lot of people who are struggling to access it in this pandemic,” Ready Response CEO Justin Dangel told The Post.
His company has provided testing for the homeless in Las Vegas, Nevada and Baltimore, Maryland.
Cuomo also said that state officials would be sending 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and 500,000 cloth masks to all public housing residents, many of whom are vulnerable to the disease because they’re elderly or have pre-existing health conditions.
“That is good news, let’s see if that is true,” said Carmen Hernandez, tenant president of a NYCHA complex on Watson Avenue in The Bronx that is not part of the pilot. “My tenants want to take the tests and we need masks.”
The governor pointedly left Mayor de Blasio off a list of politicians he thanked when announcing the program, which included U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries, State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
City Hall seemed to preview the program just minutes before the governor announced it and spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said the de Blasio administration had vetted the provider and would provide space for the testing, but declined to provide other details.
When asked why the city hasn’t previously provided testing directly to NYCHA residents, Lapeyrolerie cited the “well-documented nationwide testing shortage,” which both state and local officials have vocally complained about.
The administration has been on the defensive over its efforts to prep the embattled housing agency for the pandemic.
Lapeyrolerie said the administration has provided agency employees with 60,000 masks and 10,000 pairs of gloves to better protect them as they clean common areas at developments. And, she said, the Big Apple’s food delivery program has provided tenants with 288,000 meals so far.
NYCHA claims it does not keep track of how many residents have tested positive or died from the disease, but 260 out of 11,000 employees have the virus and six have died, according to an agency spokeswoman.
Staff attendance is at 77 percent.
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