Brooklyn pols call on CDC to allow Covid-19 testing at SUNY Downstate hospital

University Hospital of Brooklyn on 448 Lenox Rd.
University Hospital of Brooklyn on 448 Lenox Rd.

Brooklyn Zellnor Y. Myrie has led a joint letter with 23 Brooklyn elected officials in calling on the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the manufacturer of testing equipment to allow COVID-19 testing at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Hospital in Brooklyn.

The officials wrote that “SUNY Downstate is prepared to move forward with on-site testing – with personnel and certifications already in-hand – but will require a COBAS 6800 testing machine, which is subject to the Center for Disease Control allocation strategy.

“This equipment is critical to the borough’s and Downstate’s needs, and it would allow more than 1,500 tests a day to begin being processed in Brooklyn,” wrote the elected officials, copying the letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Further, we understand that Downstate is also prepared to develop a drive thru testing site, which we believe is also critically important and timely,” they added.

“Director Redfield, as the representatives for Downstate and surrounding neighborhoods across Brooklyn, we remain available to you and your team to assist in any way possible with bringing on-site testing to our borough, and we look forward to learning more about potential next steps,” the legislators continued.

Besides Myrie, they comprised: Assemblymembers Diana Richardson, N. Nick Perry, Charles Barron, Felix Ortiz, Joseph Lentol , Latrice Walker, Jo Anne Simon, Helene Weinstein, Walter Mosley, Peter J. Abbate, Jr. and r Mathylde Frontus; Congressmembers Yvette Clarke; Nydia Velazquez , Jerold Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries; and State Senators Diane Savino, Simcha Felder, Julia Salazar, Andrew Gounardes, Brian Kavanagh, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker and Roxane Persaud.

Myrie, who represents the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said: “New York is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, 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.”

Perry, the Jamaican-born representative for the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, said on Saturday that “Central Brooklyn is quickly becoming the epicenter of the pandemic.

“Yet, another day has passed and the CDC has not responded to SUNY Downstate Hospital’s urgent request to begin testing,” he said on his Facebook page.

“I’m appealing to my colleagues in government and members of the media to help bring testing where it is needed most,” he added. “How many more Brooklynites have to be turned away for tests? How many more have to die?”

The next day, Perry wrote that an unidentified representative from a local hospital told him that “masks right now are one of their greatest needs.

“To hear our ‘Embarrassment in Chief’ imply that NYC hospital workers are stealing masks, and misusing them is just deplorable, even by his low standards,” said the assemblyman clearly alluding to US President Donald J. Trump.