The COVID Crisis: Mayor Bill de Blasio Builds Out Tracing And Isolation Operation

May 12, 2020

Mayor de Blasio today announced that the City will double its testing capacity at NYC Health + Hospitals and open 12 new testing sites by May 25th, 2020. To support the City’s goal of testing and tracing every New Yorker who needs it, Dr. Neil Vora and Dr. Amanda Johnson will oversee the Test and Trace Corp’s Tracing and Isolation operation. The City also announced today that Grace Bonilla will serve as the Executive Director of the City’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity, building on the City’s commitment to confront longstanding inequities throughout the recovery process.

“Widespread testing is our best defense against the virus,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our mission to test and trace every New Yorker in need of a test is an urgent one, which is why we are building out an operation totally unprecedented in scale—giving us the ammunition we need to defeat COVID-19 once and for all.”

Additional Testing Capacity

With the goal of testing 20,000 New Yorkers per day citywide by May 25th, 2020, the City will open 12 new NYC Health + Hospitals COVID-19 testing sites. Two of these sites, in Washington Heights and Midwood respectively, will open the week of May 18th. The remaining 10 sites in the following neighborhoods will open by May 25th:

Staten Island
Prince’s Bay
Port Richmond


East Harlem

Sunset Park
Bay Ridge

Fordham Manor

Test and Trace

The first 535 contact tracers have now completed their 5-hour contact training from Johns Hopkins University, building on the City’s goal to train 1,000 tracers by June 1st. Dr. Neil Vora, the Test and Trace Corps’ newly-announced Director of Tracing, will oversee hired tracers and the City’s broader tracing operation. He has served as the Director for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Disease Control Informatics, Data, and Outbreak Response since 2015, where he oversaw the City’s Ebola and Zika testing coordination.

To ensure traced patients are supported and connected to care, Dr. Amanda Johnson will oversee the City’s isolation strategy as Director of Isolation. She currently serves as the Senior Director of Ambulatory Care Integration at NYC Health + Hospitals.

Racial Inclusion and Equity Task Force

Grace Bonilla will serve as the Executive Director of the City’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity. Bonilla is a native New Yorker who has dedicated her career to fighting for the city’s most vulnerable. Bonilla will run the task force while still serving in her current role as HRA Administrator.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the fatal consequences of racial disparities in America. This task force is comprised of officials from across the Administration to engage hardest-hit communities, monitor response and recovery efforts in those neighborhoods, and work with City officials and agencies to narrow long-standing racial and economic disparities.

The task force is co-chaired by First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, as well as recently appointed co-Chair Deputy Mayor Dr. Raul Perea-Henze.

“This is a defining moment for our city and in the midst of this historic crisis, there is an urgency to address the fatal and devastating consequences in our communities hardest hit by COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed long-standing racial disparities, but we will not spend time studying the problems, admiring the problems or lamenting the problems. Under Grace’s leadership, we will put forward recommendations that will help inform our community conversations and the immediate medium and long-term actions we will take,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “It is no small task to serve as the Executive Director of this imperative task force and we are fortunate to have Grace, who has decades of experience fighting on behalf of New Yorkers, lead us in this effort.”

“As we reflect on the impact of COVID-19 across the five boroughs and prepare to restart our great City, it is our solemn responsibility to acknowledge, analyze, and address the inequalities laid bare by this crisis,” said Executive Director of the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity Grace Bonilla. “While this virus has further exposed how deeply embedded inequality is across so much of our society, we are presented now with a unique opportunity to rebuild a City that is stronger and fairer than ever before. Only by taking this opportunity, learning from this tragedy, and reckoning with the responsibility we have to communities citywide can we build a real foundation of shared renewal for all.

As Executive Director of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, I am honored to take on this mission on behalf of all New Yorkers and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure the society we remake truly reflects the depth and breadth of our City’s character.”

“We are thrilled to have Grace serve as our Executive Director on this Task Force,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “As a life-long New Yorker with extensive experience working within the non-profit sector and City government, she understands the needs of our hardest-hit communities and will be a strong voice in our fight for a fair recovery that leaves no community behind.”

“The disparate impact of the COVID-19 epidemic among our communities in New York City reinforces the urgency of the de Blasio Administration’s mission to ensure fairness and opportunities for all New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “As a proven administrator and dedicated public servant, Grace Bonilla will lead the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity in generating systemic solutions that incorporate the voices of the most vulnerable who are deeply affected by this crisis, to build the foundation for a stronger, more sustainable and inclusive recovery.”

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