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Car Dependence

City To Open Drive-Through Testing Sites — But What About Those Without A Car?

9:51 AM EDT on March 18, 2020

Prospect Heights without cars.

Mayor de Blasio on Monday announced plans to roll out drive-through coronavirus testing centers at five locations across the city, but offered no plan for those without access to a private vehicle — leaving a large portion of New Yorkers, especially low-income New Yorkers, without a way to easily get tested.

The state’s first drive-through testing center opened last week in New Rochelle — just north of the city — where people with symptoms can make an appointment and then drive to the makeshift site inside the safety of their enclosed cars so as not to expose anyone else. Doctors in full protective gear only have to reach into the car to administer the test.

But how should those without a car get to testing sites in New York City, where roughly 1.4 million households own a car, out of 3.1 million total households, according to the most recent city data?

"Households that own cars earn twice as much on average than those who do not. ‘Wanna get tested? Get a car!’ is not a great message to be sending here in the so-called Fairest Big City in America," said Joseph Cutrufo, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives.

A spokeswoman for Hizzoner on Tuesday said the city is committed to making the testing sites accessible for everyone, but could not yet offer any details about how that would happen or if, say, such people should take public transit or a taxi to get to the hospital.

"We are committed to making these drive-thru testing sites as accessible as possible for New Yorkers in need and will have more details to share in the coming days,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie.

Photos taken around New York City show car-less streets, indicating what some outlets have already reported — that wealthier New Yorkers with access to a car have already fled the five boroughs for their second homes in the ritzy Hamptons.

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