In a letter sent on March 19, State Senator Zellnor Myrie, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson and 23 other elected officials said they were recently briefed by SUNY Downstate’s president on the university’s response to the novel coronavirus crisis.
They wrote that because Brooklyn is the largest borough in the city with 2.6 million residents, many of them with hate rates of asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions, the borough should have more testing capacity.
“Our understanding is that SUNY Downstate is prepared to move forward with on-site testing, with personnel and certifications already in hand,” the letter reads, “but that they will require a COBAS 6800 testing machine, which is subject to the Center for Disease Control allocation strategy.”
The legislators said that equipment is “critical” to the borough and the hospital’s needs. It would allow more than 1,500 tests a day to be processed in Brooklyn. They also noted that SUNY Downstate is prepared to develop a “drive-thru testing site.”
The letter was addressed to Robert Redfield, director of the CDC in Atlanta.
When the letter was sent out Thursday evening, Brooklyn had the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any borough in the city.
“New York is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Myrie said in a statement, “and we are well behind where we need to be on testing.
“In the midst of a public health crisis, the fact that we are unable to leverage Brooklyn’s flagship teaching hospital is unacceptable,” he added. “Let’s cut the red tape and get to work.”