Parishes in the archdiocese are now serving as testing sites for the coronavirus.
Staff and volunteers of SOMOS Community Care are administering the tests with assistance from parish volunteers.
“It began here yesterday, at our school across the street (Amsterdam Avenue), in the gym,” said Father Ambiorix Rodriguez, pastor of St. Elizabeth’s parish in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, in a phone interview May 29.
“People call and make an appointment. If they have insurance, that is used; if they don’t have insurance, they don’t have to pay. Our area is one of the hardest hit by the virus.”
Father Rodriguez said about 50 people were tested at the parish May 28. SOMOS has had a long community service relationship with St. Elizabeth’s, including efforts to provide food for the needy during the pandemic.
Krismely Garcia, a lead volunteer at St. Elizabeth, said, “We need to help the community so that they are well informed about the virus; this virus is new and many people are afraid. I was here helping today and yesterday.”
At St. Elizabeth the testing days are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Father Rodriguez said his parish and the others received permission from David Brown, director of archdiocese’s Real Estate Division, to offer their parish grounds as testing sites.
SOMOS has been administering Covid-19 tests in at least a dozen parishes in the Archdiocese of New York, according to a list provided by Brown’s office.
Other archdiocesan parishes are St. Jude, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Cecilia, Good Shepherd and St. Brigid-St. Emeric, all in Manhattan; St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Holy Spirit, St. Luke and St. Anthony of Padua, all in the Bronx; and St. Peter-St. Denis in Yonkers.
Brown told CNY that testing is available through SOMOS at the parish sites to priests and deacons of the archdiocese.
The lead coordinator for SOMOS is Dr. Lidia Virgil, chief operations officer at SOMOS Community Care, based in Manhattan. Dr. Virgil is a parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs.
The tests are administered with the use of swabs or by way of blood samples. Results typically will be available within four days. To register and make a required testing appointment, call SOMOS at (833) 766-6769.