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Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the results of the state’s antibody testing survey at churches in lower-income New York City communities and communities of color show 27 percent of individuals tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, compared with 19.9 percent of New York City’s overall population. The data was collected from approximately 8,000 individuals and shows high positive rates and continued high community spread in these low-income communities.

To address these continued high infection rates in low-income and minority communities, Governor Cuomo announced the state is continuing its partnership with Ready Responders to expand testing from eight to 40 public housing developments across New York City. The state is also partnering with SOMOS to establish 28 additional testing sites at churches and community-based providers in predominately minority communities, for a total of 72 faith-based testing sites in the state in partnership with Northwell Health and SOMOS. The state will also work to stop community spread in these neighborhoods by increasing PPE availability, providing hand sanitizer, enforcing social distancing, and expanding public health and education in these communities.

Governor Cuomo also directed all local governments to expand testing in low-income communities and develop outreach programs to help address the disparities in these communities.

The Governor also announced that beginning Thursday, May 21st, religious gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed statewide where strict social distancing measures are enforced and all participants wear masks. Additionally, drive-in and parking lot services will also be allowed beginning Thursday.

The Governor also announced the state is convening an Interfaith Advisory Council to discuss proposals to safely bring back religious services. A list of the members of the Interfaith Advisory Council is available here. 

The Governor also announced the five finalists for the Wear a Mask New York Ad Contest, which was launched by the Governor on May 5th and is being overseen by his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, asked New Yorkers to create and share a video explaining why New Yorkers should wear a mask in public. Over the past two weeks, the state collected more than 600 submissions from New Yorkers across the state. New Yorkers can vote for the winning ad until Monday, May 25th at The winning ad will be announced on Tuesday, May 26th, and that ad will be used as a public service announcement. 

“All across the country, low-income and predominately minority communities are still seeing an increase in the numbers and are suffering the most from this virus,” Governor Cuomo said. “We did a very extensive research project and found that this is true in New York City where the percent of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 was much higher in lower-income communities than the general population. The data also shows not just a high number of positive cases, but that the spread is continuing in those communities and that is where the new cases are coming from. So we did the research and we have the data, but now we must implement aggressive, targeted strategies in these highly impacted communities to help address these disparities.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 1,525 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 354,370 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 354,370 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, there were 111 cases in Herkimer County with 3 deaths.