New York City will launch free COVID-19 antibody testing next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.
This is part of an eventual plan to provide up to 140,000 people tests to determine if they've had the virus, he said during his press conference.
Tests will be offered by appointment in five 'immediate' neighborhoods including Morrisania, East New York, Upper Manhattan, Concord and Long Island City, beginning the week of May 11.
The city is working with lab company BioReference, to test up to 5,000 people per day, with test results being returned in 24 to 48 hours.
De Blasio said appointment scheduling will begin this Friday with the launch of a new hotline with an aim to collect, extensive demographic data from those being tested, according to NBC New York.
The blood tests, checking for antibodies, could tell residents if they were sick with the virus in the past and would allow health-care researchers learn more about Covid-19.
"The individual gets something they need, but the health-care leadership, the scientists, they get the information they need to do the research to answer the questions about the disease," de Blasio said.
Results from a survey of 7,500 New Yorkers, conducted by the State to determine how many people in the state have been infected, showed that nearly one in four New York City residents tested positive, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The 140,000 residents to be tested under this new program is on top of another 140,000 city health-care workers and first responders that will be taking the test in the coming weeks, Mayor de Blasio added.
"These are numbers that really start to add up even against the size of a city as big as ours," he said.
The first 70,000 tests for everyday New Yorkers will take place in May, and the next 70,000 will occur in June.
Two weeks ago, the City's health department issued an alert saying that antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a prior coronavirus infection.
De Blasio said appointment scheduling will begin on Friday with the launch of a new dedicated hotline.
We'll provide the hotline information once the mayor's office makes it public.