NYC Opening Virus Testing Sites in Hard-hit Communities

A mother and daughter wearing face masks wait to cross a street in the Harlem section of New York, Thursday, April 16, 2020. Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended stay-at-home restrictions Thursday through mid-May due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) – New York City started to open new coronavirus testing sites for hard-hit communities Friday as residents throughout the state faced new rules on covering their faces.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:

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COMMUNITY TESTING SITES

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has stressed that widespread coronavirus testing is key to any prospect of eventually relaxing restrictions that have largely shut down city life, and he announced a step in that direction. Five new walk-in testing sites will be open by Monday, with a focus on residents ages 65 and older in areas with high numbers of cases of the COVID-19 virus.

The sites will initially offer a total of 2,400 tests a week, but the city aims to double that quickly.

“Everyone’s important,” the Democratic mayor said, but “this is about sharp, clear disparities.”

“It is not a statement about anything but focusing on people whose lives are in the greatest danger.”

Separately, five other new testing sites will be available to health care workers who are members of a major union that represents nurses, aides and many others. Those sites, offering a total of 3,500 tests per week, also will be open to other essential workers, including those who work at adult care facilities, and to city residents 65 and older with underlying medical conditions.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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FACE-COVERING RULE

New rules requiring New Yorkers to cover their faces in public are going into effect Friday as the state’s residents prepared for at least another month of social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Under the guidelines announced this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, everyone must wear a mask or face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain appropriate distance from others. Children younger than 2 and people with a medical reason why they can’t tolerate a mask are exempt from the rule, which takes effect at 8 p.m.

Cuomo announced Thursday that the state’s stay-at-home restrictions that have been in place since March 22 will last at least until May 15. He said the extension was made in consultation with officials from other Northeast states and will be reevaluated next month.

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