New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer sent a letter on Wednesday to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot requesting the release of critically important COVID-19 antibody testing data to better understand the scope of the pandemic and its impacts on vulnerable communities and New Yorkers of color.
Communicable disease reporting is required by both the New York State Sanitary Code and the New York City Health Code, due to the compelling public interest in allowing government to act on relevant health data. New York State clarified that antibody test reporting is also required in guidance issued on April 30, and the New York State Department of Health confirms it is providing this data to the City.
However, the City has not disclosed any data or offered any information how the City makes use of the data provided, Stringer pointed out in his letter.
“Antibody testing information offers a crucial datapoint that must be a foundation of our public health response to this virus,” wrote Stringer. “The City must disclose aggregate antibody testing data from all New York City health care providers so that we do not lose the opportunity to learn everything we can about this virus.”
Most recently, New York State’s sample of antibody tests indicated that the rate of positive antibody tests in the Bronx alone was 34 percent — much higher than the 19.9 percent for the city overall. Information, such as knowing the rates of infection by neighborhood and social status; understanding the number of cases in New York City of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS); and seeing comparisons of varying antibody tests administered by different health providers will better inform the public on how to achieve a safe and strategic reopening.
“Antibody testing information offers a crucial datapoint that must be a foundation of our public health response to this virus,” he said. “DOHMH should work immediately to release aggregate antibody test data as soon as possible. If there are any roadblocks to disclosing this data, DOHMH should work to clear them.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.