Roosevelt Island COVID mobile testing site draws long lines. What you need to know for Day Two

Lines formed early before Roosevelt Island’s COVID-19 mobile testing site opened. Weather was damp and a little chilly, but spirits were high along the hour-long line.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

Roosevelt Islanders waited months for testing.

“The first person to be tested arrived at the big bell (in Good Shepherd Plaza) at 5:30 a.m.,” a local observer told us.

Roosevelt Island Mobile COVID Testing Minivan, looking inside.
According to an observer: “A too-small mini-van, not-disability-friendly, hardly well-ventilated, I’m wondering how they’ll sterilize between each person tested…”

I spotted some friends waiting in line, and in spite of limitations, they were appreciative. They were happy about getting tested near home, and none complained.

In fact, they recommended that I “get in line,” but that raised an interesting question.

Why do that when I can get free testing at Metropolitan Hospital, most days, without any lines? And the quick trip takes less time than the hour I’d spend in Good Shepherd Plaza?

The greater part of that mystery arrived with their follow up question: “Where?”

The just weren’t aware of it.

A mystery we may never solve: Why hasn’t RIOC or any of the elected officials expressing concern done much of anything to alert residents that fast, easy testing’s been available nearby, all along?

Residents test at a 50+ per day clip currently, according to DOH reports. And results are good. DOH’s most recent rolling average showed a 1.97% infection rate for zip code 10044, far below the city average.

Some questions answered about Roosevelt Island’s COVID Mobile testing site…

Official neglect at informing residents wasn’t the biggest question…

We may never know why MBP Gale Brewer refused to identify the testing resource. But now we can tell you, it’s Rapid Reliable Testing, a subsidiary of Ambulnz. That matters because New York State strongly recommends checking with your insurance carrier before signing on with “free” testing. As multiple reports show, lots of people got surprises along with their test results. Insurance companies find ways around the “free” requirements, especially when the tests are out of network.

RIOC just seemed to hobble along, as usual, secretive, evading accountability, but Brewer stepped up. Unfortunately, though, she was, also, inexplicably deceptive.

Promotional posters as well as a Brewer-influenced Patch online article clearly implied NYC Health & Hospital’s Test and Trace’s involvement. A search of their website found that untrue, and that deception alone is worth investigating.

Save a class action suit accusing Ambulnz of failing to pay promised wages, back in June, their record appears spotless. So, why hide the information?

A possible cause is that RRT parent Ambulnz is a profit-making company, and therefore, someone besides taxpayers must pay some of the bills.

An initial demand from Brewer, ordering people to bring their insurance cards, went away when we asked questions. Like, if it’s free, what’s the need for insurance cards?

Worse yet, refusing to identify the testing source denied residents a chance to follow New York State guidelines. The state recommends contacting your insurance company, making sure of your coverage before being tested.

Roosevelt Island COVID mobile testing is not necessarily free, no matter what the political pitch says.

But no amount of prodding got Brewer or RIOC to cough up the needed info.

Conclusion: Get in line but be cautious…

Roosevelt Island COVID mobile testing is probably safe, but unless you check in advance, you risk liability for at least some of the costs. Contact your insurance carrier and be sure. The company is Rapid Reliable Testing, and Ambulnz is its parent.

The minivan in use fails on accessibility requirements. Before testing, you must climb up some steps, and the cramped space will be uncomfortable for many being tested.

When testing’s underway, at least four people, often more and some standing, cram in along with equipment in the rear of this minivan. At my height, 6′ 2″, many will graze the ceiling, even at a slump, and you must watch your head climbing in and out.

Cramped, it also raises questions about proper sterilization.

Finally, as we reported (See link here.), free testing without long, outdoor lines is easy at Metropolitan Hospital along with other locations. An article in Curbed lists an array of testing options without standing in long lines.

Needless to say, regular testing is important. And that doesn’t change when Roosevelt Island’s COVID mobile testing drives away on Sunday evening.

Get tested. And then, do it again.

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