HEMPSTEAD, NY – Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin has witnessed the devastating impact the coronavirus can have as he has watched family members that have tested positive for a virus that continues to surge around Nassau County and the rest of the country.
As confirmed cases and hospitalizations continue to climb around the region and the state, Clavin said Tuesday that the need for testing continues to remain a top priority for local officials. But thanks to federal CARES funding, Hempstead residents will have access to free rapid testing at a drive-up site at Mt. Sinai South Nassau.
The testing site is provided through funding that Clavin said Town officials have tried to use for the betterment of local residents since the start of the pandemic. Previously, funding has been used to provide ventilators at Mt. Sinai South Nassau and to feed more than 1 million people. But now, the priority has shifted to coronavirus testing, which led to Tuesday’s announcement of the free rapid testing through which residents can receive results in as little as 15 minutes, Clavin said.
The free testing comes through a $445,967 CARES funding grant which is part of the $133 million in funding the town has received.
“As everybody knows, it is essential that we get tested with the numbers going up,” Clavin said at a news conference on Tuesday. “It’s a very difficult time and I can’t stress to people, ‘You’ve got to get tested – this is the way you have to take care of yourselves.’ It’s not an easy time for a lot of people and families out there. …It’s so imperative.”
Becoming emotional during the news conference, Clavin called the topic of testing “really personal” and said that it’s a vital time for the township, which makes the partnership between the township and Mt. Sinai critical, Clavin said.
The testing will be by appointment only, but Clavin called the effort a bi-partisan partnership between Town officials and health experts to help provide testing to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Mt. Sinai testing will be open six days a week from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 7-11 a.m. on Saturdays at Mt. Sinai’s Washington Ave. entrance. Hempstead residents can make an appointment for the Mount Sinai South Nassau free rapid tests by calling 516-390-2888.
The hotline is staffed Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.mIndividuals aged 17 or younger must have written consent or be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to be tested.
Coronavirus testing has been provided at other areas around Hempstead, but Clavin called the drive-up testing site at Mt. Sinai so important as a time when Nassau County officials have expressed concern about the way COVID-19 numbers have been trending.
“Expanding testing is one way to combat the virus,” Richard J. Murphy, president & CEO of Mount Sinai South Nassau, said in a news release. “If you know you are positive, you can stay home and self-isolate, reducing the possibility of spreading the disease. We’re pleased to be teaming up with the Town of Hempstead to help meet demand for more testing in the communities we serve.”
Hempstead town officials approved the nearly $446,000 grant for the free testing on Monday. Officials said that funding will be used for an all-weather tent, where the testing will take place as well as for other testing for other testing and staffing that is needed at Mt. Sinai as part of the program.
“Providing our residents free testing options will help us in the fight against the second wave of the Coronavirus,” Hempstead Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said in a news release.
Two Hempstead Town council members, Anthony D’Esposito and Chris Carini, have experience working as first responders, which provides them with first- hand knowledge of how critical testing is as the pandemic continues. Carini said with the partnership with Mt. Sinai in place, Hempstead is “leading the way” in the fight against impacts being felt locally by the pandemic.
Other Town officials agreed.
“Drive-through options are now in high demand due to their safety and convenience,” Councilman Tom Muscarella said in the news release announcing the partnership. “Rather than having to stand out in the cold weather for hours waiting to get tested, this provides residents with the option to make an appointment and remain in their vehicles, and we thank Mount Sinai South Nassau for their creative and forward thinking during this difficult period.”