NEW YORK — This jampacked city, with its high-rises, brownstones and cheek-by-jowl single-family homes, is a ripe environment for the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 11,000 residents. That density also complicates a key strategy for alleviating the epidemic: testing.
In their initial response to the pandemic, city and state officials called for federal health officials to move more quickly on increasing testing capacity, seeking to identify those who had contracted the virus and isolate them to help stem the outbreak.
“Our single-greatest challenge is the lack of fast federal action to increase testing capacity and, without that, we cannot beat this epidemic back,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
However, when it became clear that they lacked sufficient diagnostic tests and needed to preserve personal protective equipment for health care workers to treat hospitalized patients, city officials shifted to calling instead for testing only the sickest people —