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Free Covid-19 testing arrives in Freeport

Officials hope to curb rise with tracing, vaccine

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Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Freeport, with the Nassau County Department of Health confirming nearly 200 new cases each week. As of press time Wednesday, the county had confirmed more than 2,800 cases in Freeport. 

While much hope is being placed on the vaccines to stop the spread, county officials continue to push the importance of testing and contact tracing. 

On Dec. 21, County Executive Laura Curran said the county would partner with Nassau’s Federally Qualified Health Centers to offer free Covid-19 testing for residents at the FQHCs locations in Freeport, Elmont, Hempstead, Roosevelt and Westbury. 

“The county remains committed to offering easy and reliable Covid-19 testing for residents so we can contain disease spread while we wait for the vaccine to be widely available,” Curran said. “Our FQHCs have been real partners during this pandemic, and I thank them for once again working with us to make sure all residents have access to Covid-19 testing and other critical health care services.”

The testing in Freeport will take place at the South Ocean Care Health Center, at 101 S. Bergen Place, behind the Freeport Memorial Library. Testing is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

Testing at the neighboring Roosevelt site will take place at the Roosevelt Health Center, at 380 Nassau Road, on the first and third Saturdays of the month, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

All residents are eligible for free testing, regardless of symptoms, exposures or immigration status. Appointments are required and can be made by calling (516) 396-7500. 

FQHC has provided Covid-19 testing for all at the Freeport site since April thanks to additional funding from the county and Town of Hempstead. Curran said the partnership would continue through 2021and include outreach, medical care and vaccine promotion to the communities in need. 

David Nemiroff, president and chief executive of Family Health Centers of Long Island, said health care workers would also be sent out to connect with those who might be unable to access the health centers, including homebound seniors and those living in homeless shelters. 

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has already come to Freeport, with the South Shore Rehabilitation and Nursing Center being among the first nursing and rehabilitation centers to receive the vaccine.

The South Shore Rehabilitation and Nursing Center’s Respiratory Department has had about 100 cases since the pandemic began in March, said Kilita Redmond, director of respiratory care at the center. 

“We were all fully equipped with PPE. We had masks, face shields and hazmat suits, and we sectioned off a part of the center solely for those who had Covid,” Redmond said. “It almost felt like going to war.”

CVS provided and administered the Covid-19 vaccines to the staff and residents at the center. 

Although the vaccine and testing could help combat the spread of Covid-19, many state and local officials said they worry it might be too late to stop the current spike in cases before January. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned of a possible second shutdown as residents continue to gather in small groups indoors, attributing to the “living room spread,” which has caused about 75 percent of the recent positive cases in the state. 

Cases are expected to rise because of Christmas and New Year’s gatherings. 

Concerned over these predictions, Freeport School District officials announced that students would only take part in remote learning for the first week after break when classes resume on Jan. 4.

“The situation is constantly changing, and we don’t know if there will be a shutdown by the time we come back,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham said. “By sticking to remote learning for the first week, we can ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff.”