In a letter to the editor, Daniel Roque and Francesa Perrone are suggesting that New Jersey implement mobile COVID-19 testing in a way to both protect seniors and promote social distancing.
Despite having access to around the clock care, 17 seniors were found dead at a nursing home in Andover, New Jersey presumably from COVID-19.
If this can happen in rehabilitative health care facilities, what is there to say about the fate of thousands of seniors currently living in housing authority buildings spread out around the state?
This demographic does not have readily available access to the coronavirus tests, nor do they have the luxury of 24/7 nursing care.
Seniors are at an increased risk not only because of their age, but also because of comorbidities that can take advantage of an already compromised immune system. It is this population that the state is failing.
But we can do something about that if we have the fortitude to do so. There are many areas throughout the state that do drive through testing for those who fear they may have coronavirus symptoms.
Drive through testing is a great way to provide care while practicing social distancing. People drive to the site in their cars, get swabbed, and leave. But in areas such as the one I live in, most people rely on public transportation.
Drive through testing, for this demographic, is virtually inaccessible, making certain aspects of public health difficult to carry out.
As recent graduates from NYU’s School of Global Public Health, we are aware that accessing health services can be cumbersome for certain at risk populations.
Health care is oftentimes considered a luxury, whereas instead it should be an easily accessible service- especially now during this pandemic.
Hence, we propose Mobile Community testing as a way to bridge the gap between public health and applied practice.
Our proposition is simple, the state should commandeer local health practitioners and set up temporary mobile clinics that can administer COVID-19 tests. These clinics should maximize efficiency while promoting social distancing.
We also recommend that the state empower local health departments, in assistance with national and international medical graduates, to test those seniors in vulnerable situations.
By having mobile community testing we can ensure that COVID-19 numbers remain accurate and that the communities that are carrying the brunt of this burden are the first to be relieved of it.
Daniel Roque and Francesca Perrone
West New York residents