New York City to test 140,000 for antibodies in next month

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Updated 1:28 pm EDT, Thursday, May 7, 2020

NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended protections for New Yorkers unable to pay their rent, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set an ambitious goal to test 140,000 people for coronavirus antibodies by early next month. The state’s daily death toll was 231.

More on the latest pandemic-related developments in New York:

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EVICTION MORATORIUM

New York’s moratorium on outbreak-related housing evictions was extended Thursday by Cuomo for two more months.

The governor in March had issued a moratorium that lasted through June, but he said he wanted to reduce the anxiety of families struggling through the economic shutdown. It is now extended until Aug. 20.

“I hope it gives families a deep breath,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

The executive order will also ban late fees for missed payments and allow renters to apply their security deposit to a payment, though they’d have to pay it back over time.

New York tallied 231 virus-related deaths Wednesday. Though hospitalizations continued to decrease slowly to under 8,700, the daily death toll has hovered around 230 for four days.

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ANTIBODY TESTING

New York City will test 140,000 people for coronavirus antibodies between next week and early June, de Blasio announced Thursday.

The antibody tests, which indicate whether a person has been infected with the virus at some point, will be offered for free by appointment at five locations, the mayor said. The results will be available in one to two days and will also be used for research, he said.

Researchers say it is unclear whether coronavirus antibodies provide immunity from further exposure to the germ. The human body produces antibodies days or weeks after fighting an infection. Most tests use a finger prick of blood on a strip.

“We are not promising people a rose garden here,” de Blasio said. “We’re not saying the antibody test is the last word. It’s not. But it tells you something.”

The city will use tests made by BioReference Laboratories for the free program.

The state has already performed antibody tests on about 27,000 workers at health care centers in the New York City area.

At a separate briefing Thursday, Cuomo announced that those workers tested positive for antibodies at a lower rate than the general population, a finding he said shows the effectiveness of protective masks and gloves for front-line workers.

“That is amazingly good news,” he said. “We were afraid of what was going to happen.”

The survey found 12% of health care workers in New York City tested positive for antibodies, compared with 20% for the city’s general population. Positive rates for health care workers in Westchester County, just north of the city, were about half of those for the general population, though worker rates were roughly the same on Long Island.

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