Public housing

Westchester to distribute COVID test kits to social housing residents


If a person has been exposed to coronavirus disease, it is best to wait five days from the date of exposure before testing. Testing too soon could lead to a false negative test result, experts say.

Westchester County plans to distribute approximately 8,000 test kits to local housing authorities to better monitor COVID-19.

The county’s Department of Emergency Services, which received test kits from New York State, will distribute them to the 10 housing authorities serving low-income Westchester residents, a news release said Tuesday. More than 8,000 people live in housing authorities, a county spokesperson said, although each authority will determine how tests will be distributed.

Each housing authority will distribute kits at their facilities to residents. The county has assigned two kits — four tests in total — for each residential unit.

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“We are working quickly to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure our neighbors in every Westchester community have access to rapid home testing,” County Executive George Latimer said in a statement. “Our outreach through testing and vaccination continues to play a vital role in stopping the spread of this virus and keeping families healthy and safe.”

The move comes after New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced last week an increased distribution of test kits across the state, including to gathering places where people reside nearby.

Coronavirus cases declined significantly in Westchester and New York state after the omicron variant swept across the United States in the fall and winter.

In a statement, County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said testing is a measure to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If a person has been exposed to coronavirus disease, it is best to wait five days from the date of exposure before testing. Testing too soon could result in a false negative test result, she added.

People with symptoms should be “especially vigilant” about testing in order to take necessary steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Amler said. “This is especially important to protect our vulnerable populations, especially children under 5 who cannot yet be vaccinated.”

Angela Farrish, executive director of the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority, said the test kits help low-income residents who are elderly or disabled.

Partnering with the county to obtain testing kits, she said in a statement, “has provided an invaluable service to this vulnerable community.”

With New Rochelle, Greenburgh, Mount Kisco, Yonkers, North Tarrytown, Peekskill, Port Chester, Tarrytown, Tuckahoe and White Plains, all the test kits requested.

The county has also worked to distribute test kits to community health centers, day care centers, senior centers, homeless shelters, food pantries and first aid agencies, among other organizations.

Eduardo Cuevas covers diversity, equity and inclusion in Westchester and Rockland counties. He can be reached at EM [email protected] and followed on Twitter @eduardomcuevas.