CITY HALL, N.Y. — For Mayor Eric Adams, the goal is to learn to live with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and he hopes to do it using take-home tests, he said Tuesday.
Adams said he took one such test before an afternoon press conference in Manhattan and was discouraged by its complicated instructions. To address that, he said hopes compile informative videos in multiple languages telling people about the tests and how they work.
“My goal is to get New Yorkers to not have to wait on long lines. I want New Yorkers to embrace the concept of empowering them,” he said. “I want to get take-home tests in the hands of people, so they can do it at home.”
In summation of his strategy, the new mayor used a sweatshirt prop with what he described as his slogan of “vaccine and testing.” According to the latest data available from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), about 93% of city adults have at least one dose and about 84% are fully vaccinated.
Adams said increased use of the take home tests would help address long lines and crowding at physical testing sites around the city. So far, the city has distributed 1.6 million take-home testing kits for Department of Education (DOE) schools.
Around Staten Island, borough residents have complained about long lines, along with confusing information from the city about locations’ times and availability. Additionally, testing sites have been concentrated in the northern third of the borough, leaving many South Shore residents with limited options.
Adams also credited Gov. Kathy Hochul for helping get take-home tests to the city that they’ve been distributing at sites around the city. He said the city is working on how to get more and more tests into the city, and get the relevant information to people about the tests.
“The more we get people to use the take-home tests, the more we’re going to further evolve into living with COVID,” he said. “We need a steady supply, particularly during the surge.”
COVID’s latest variant, omicron, has rapidly spread throughout the city bringing record-setting case totals around the five boroughs.
About a third of DOE students were absent Monday, and there were concerns about a possible return to remote learning, including from United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
Additionally, absences among city workers and outages due to vaccine mandates have led to some staffing challenges for the municipal workforce.