Most NYC coronavirus testing done in whitest and wealthiest zip codes, Post analysis finds
Staten Islanders are getting tested for coronavirus more often than any other borough — and at twice the rate of Brooklynites and Manhattanites, an analysis of data from the city Department of Health by The Post shows.
Additionally, the paper’s analysis found that more than two-thirds of the 30 zip codes with the highest per-capita rates of testing were either whiter or wealthier — and frequently both — than the city average population.
“As the data shows, the COVID-19 crisis is hitting communities of more color the hardest – while those same communities have less testing to diagnose the virus or resources to fight it,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), the city’s highest-ranking elected black official. “The city needs a task force in place to rapidly implement an action plan to mitigate racial disparities in COVID-19 exposure, testing, access to resources, and fatalities.”
City officials and civil rights leaders have been sounding the alarm about COVID-19’s disparate impact on the Big Apple’s minority communities after an analysis of death certificates revealed that black and brown New Yorkers are dying at twice the rate of their white counterparts.
“There is absolutely no question that people of means have found a way to get a test during the most restrictive times and that the vast majority of people who are low income or people of color had no opportunity for testing unless they were sick enough to be hospitalized,” said Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), who chairs the health committee.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced City Hall was launching a new $10 million advertising and outreach effort targeting the 88 zip codes hardest hit by the virus to try to slow the virus’s spread in minority communities.
Nearly four out of every 100 residents — 3.8 — Staten Islanders have gotten a hard-to-score test for COVID-19, far exceeding the per-capita rates in other boroughs, the paper’s analysis found.
Just 2.5 per 100 people in Queens have gotten a test, while testing is slightly more prevalent in The Bronx, where 2.9 people per 100 have been checked.
Both boroughs have been hard-hit by the outbreak and an analysis by a nonprofit news organization, The City, found that Bronxites were more likely to die of COVID-19 than residents in any other borough.
Testing rates in Brooklyn and Manhattan are even worse, averaging just 1.9 tests per 100 people — half the rate of Staten Island.
The analysis also found that Staten Island residents tested positive for the disease at a slightly higher per-capita rate than any other borough — 1.8 per 100 people. The Bronx came in a close second with 1.7 positives per 100 people.
New York’s smallest borough is home to many first responders, possibly explaining the disparity in both testing availability and the rate of positives.
But even in New York’s most tested borough — only one in every 25 people have been checked for the disease.
Additionally, the analysis revealed that 22 of the 30 most tested zip codes are either whiter or wealthier than the city’s average population.
New York’s most tested zip code per capita is The Bronx’s 10464, which includes City Island and Pelham Bay Park. Its least tested zip code was Manhattan’s 10280, which covers a swath of the Financial District that stretches from Battery Park to the World Trade Center.
The Post conducted its analysis by marrying the city’s testing data for each of its 177 zip codes with the U.S. Census Bureau’s population and demographic estimations for each zip code.
“We are deeply concerned about the disparities of the impact of this virus and are working hard to ensure the resources are available to communities experiencing the worst outcomes,” said Health Department spokesman Patrick Gallahue. “With respect to testing, we have given guidance to providers on when it is appropriate to test, however, it is ultimately the judgment of the physician.”
He added: “While we have recently expanded testing we urge providers to limit tests to seriously ill people as well as healthcare workers, first responders, and other especially vulnerable communities.”
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