The Hempstead Town Board unanimously voted to grant up to $2 million to Northwell Health on July 28 to establish 13 Covid-19 testing sites throughout the town, including in Freeport, the Five Towns, Elmont and Hempstead.
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Donald Clavin said the town had some of the hardest-hit communities on Long Island. The town received $133 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to combat Covid-19. The funding for Northwell Health is intended to prevent a second wave of the pandemic.
“This is the most important thing we could be doing with the money we received,” Clavin said. “This collaboration will save lives.”
“We are proud to partner with the Town of Hempstead to provide antibody and diagnostic Covid-19 testing and share prevention information, as this is an important step toward stopping the spread of coronavirus and preventing another deadly cycle of the pandemic from getting a foothold across New York state,” added Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health.
Clavin and Senior Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said that while the Town of Hempstead as a whole has been through tough times because of the pandemic, the virus has disproportionately affected low-income communities and communities of color in the town.
The villages of Freeport, Hempstead and Valley Stream were the top three hardest-hit communities in the town, respectively. As of July 26, Hempstead had 2,351 confirmed cases, Valley Stream had 2,049 and Freeport had 1,734, according to the Nassau County Department of Health.
The hamlet of Elmont had 1,405 confirmed cases as of July 26.
Town officials said that while the 12 testing sites would be spread throughout the town, there would be a larger concentration of sites in the most affected communities.
“My communities were hit the worst,” said Goosby, who represents the Village of Hempstead, Lakeview and Roosevelt, as well as parts of Freeport, Baldwin, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre and West Hempstead. “I’m grateful for this partnership with Northwell Health to help my fellow residents.”
“Northwell Health was instrumental in saving Valley Stream,” added Councilman Bruce Blakeman, who represents Valley Stream, Lawrence, Inwood and portions of Cedarhurst, Elmont and Franklin Square. “Their facility at LIJ Valley Stream really stepped up for the community, so this partnership will be a great help to the Town of Hempstead.”
Dowling said that at the height of the pandemic, Northwell Health was treating more than 17,000 patients at its facilities on Long Island and New York City. That number has dropped to 86 patients, and he hopes the number continues to decrease with the Town of Hempstead’s grant.
“The ways to combat this is through more testing, social distancing and wearing masks,” Dowling said. “We’ve seen spikes in our states, and we need to make sure we don’t see it go up here. We’ll be sharing all our results with the local leadership in order to encourage the best practices and avoid a surge of cases here.”