| Photo credit: NYC Health + Hospitals Test & Trace Corps
NEW YORK – Mobile testing units are now offering simultaneous rapid influence and COVID-19. According to the NYC Test & Trace Corps, this fleet-wide expansion of testing for the flu A, flu B, and COVID-19 viruses is the largest deployment of no-cost co-testing facilities in the country.
“Our ability to quickly test patients for both influenza and coronavirus provides New Yorkers a convenient one-stop shop to get the critical information they need to make well-informed decisions about their health and protecting their communities,” said NYC Test & Trace Corps Executive Director Dr. Ted Long. “I am glad these tests became available on the cusp of flu season, so that patients can quickly make sense of the commonly confused symptoms of these viruses and seek the resources they need.”
Rapid antigen tests for flu A, B, and COVID-19 became available September 9 at NYC Test & Trace Corps’s over 50 mobile units, including in its Street Health and Wellness Outreach (SHOW) units and five dual-use units, where patients may also receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The tests are performed with a single swab and provide patients tests results in approximately 15 minutes. Each mobile testing unit can perform up to 300 swabs per day.
“DocGo’s Mobile Health concept has proven uniquely valuable to facilitate a range of medical services for underserved communities across the five boroughs,” said DocGo President Anthony Capone. “Since Flu and COVID symptoms overlap significantly, our ability to deliver rapid test results for both viruses provides peace of mind, and enables symptomatic individuals to quarantine for the correct amount of time, further ensuring public safety.”
Mobile testing units are deployed citywide on a week-to-week basis according to need. No appointment is required. For a current schedule of all mobile deployments, visit nyc.gov/covidtest or call the NYC Test & Trace Corps hotline at 212-COVID19 to find other convenient no-cost testing sites near you.
In August, NYC Test & Trace performed 250,000 tests across its program, scaled its SHOW units to a total of six mobile units and six roving teams to better assist unsheltered individuals across NYC, and converted several mobile testing units to dual-use testing and vaccination units to simultaneously bring both services to communities that need them.
NYC test & Trace said that flu season usually starts in the late fall and lasts throughout the spring. Since influenza activity can be unpredictable and influenza viruses can be found year-round, getting the vaccine as early as possible is important. However, it is never too late to be vaccinated. A flu vaccine is necessary each year because the vaccine protects for only one season. This year’s flu vaccine contains four virus strains, three of which are new this year.
Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people, especially children, may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may also be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
The steps New Yorkers take to prevent COVID-19 are also applicable to flu. Face coverings, frequent handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, distancing and staying home if ill can prevent the spread of flu. Additional ways to reduce the spread of germs like flu:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical scare or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu. (JDomingo/PDM)