Photo Credit: NYC Mayor's Office
NYC Mayor Eric Adams

The country’s first-ever mobile-based “Test to Treat” program was launched Thursday to provide instant access to prescriptions for free antiviral medications for eligible New Yorkers testing positive for COVID-19 at the sites.

The joint announcement of the launch was made Thursday by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Test & Trace Corps, NYC Health + Hospitals, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) were joined by White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.

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Local pharmacies are partnering with initial Test to Treat units to provide immediate distribution of medication from the prescription.

As the launch continues, the program will expand to over 30 units over the month of July and will also shift to be able to distribute antiviral medications in the units over the summer.

“New York City may have been at the epicenter of the pandemic at the start, but now we are leading the way in prevention and mitigation,” said Mayor Eric Adams.

“By getting lifesaving medications into the hands of New Yorkers minutes after they test positive, we are once again leading the nation to quickly deliver accessible care to those who need it. This mobile Test to Treat program will save lives today and prepares us for future waves of this pandemic, keeping more New Yorkers safe and healthy.”

“Today we are offering you another, faster, way to get treated, where you can walk away with an oral medication a matter of minutes after a positive test,” said Dr. Ted Long, executive director, NYC Test & Trace Corps; senior vice president, Ambulatory Care and Population Health, NYC Health + Hospitals.

“Working with trusted local pharmacies, and soon equipping our actual units with Paxlovid, this new mobile Test to Treat model lets us equitably bring treatment to all New Yorkers and protect our city so that we can continue to recover together.”

“We’ve learned during the pandemic how important it is to bring care to people, in an equitable way, prioritizing vulnerable groups and neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by COVID-19,” DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said.

“In addition to home delivery of medications, we should be ready to hand off lifesaving medications to those who may not feel comfortable or confident using tele-visit services and deliver end-to-end services at a single point-of care. The new mobile Test to Treat model continues the city’s track record of innovation in our pandemic response.”

Stan Vashovsky, CEO of DocGo, added that prescribing Paxlovid in a mobile setting “helps lower the risk of individuals being admitted to the hospital, and fosters healthcare equity by bringing this vital treatment to underserved populations.”

The Test to Treat mobile program is starting with three mobile testing units, paired with local pharmacies, and will expand to more than 30 units through the month of July.

In the initial phase, New Yorkers who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a prescription from a clinician at the mobile site and be able to pick up the medication at the co-located pharmacy or through the city’s free home delivery program. Units will be partnered and deployed at the following locations:

Inwood Pharmacy
4915 Broadway
New York, New York 10034

Burke Avenue Pharmacy
759 Burke Avenue
Bronx, New York 10467

Rex Pharmacy
119-01 Rockaway Boulevard
South Ozone Park, New York 114120

As the program expands, New Yorkers who test positive at a participating mobile testing unit will be offered the chance to meet with an onsite clinician and, if eligible, receive a free course of Paxlovid anti-viral medication.

The program builds upon the NYC Test & Trace Corps’ mobile testing and vaccination efforts, which provided 1.9 million tests and 285,000 vaccinations to date.

New Yorkers can visit nyc.gov/covidtest to find a city-run testing site most convenient and accessible to them.

Multiple COVID-19 treatments are available for people ages 12 and older and can be delivered to New Yorkers’ homes for free.

For more information on COVID-19 treatments, please call 212-COVID19 and press 9 or visit nyc.gov/health/covidtreatments.

Calling 212-COVID19 provides New Yorkers an immediate connection to a clinician who can refer them to monoclonal antibody treatment or prescribe antiviral medications, like Paxlovid, and arrange to have it delivered to their home that same day.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.