BROOKLYN, NY – Today, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in partnership with Northwell Health, announced that 24 churches in predominately minority communities will become temporary COVID-19 testing sites.
Rep. Jeffries’ remarks as delivered.
“Good Morning, Governor. Great to be with you, and of course, thank you for the tremendous leadership that you have provided to the people of the Empire State, and in fact the nation, in so many ways during this moment of trial and tribulation.
“And I just appreciate the fact that your leadership has been evidence-based, data-driven, compassionate and comprehensive, and today’s announcement is just another example of that.
“We know that this is an extraordinary pandemic and it requires an extraordinary governmental response at all levels of government, it’s all hands on deck at the city, the state and the federal level. And the New York delegation is committed to continuing to work with you to make sure that we can drive the federal resources into New York State to match the level of infection, pain, suffering and death that we’ve all had to endure. It’s an all of government moment and, of course, an all of America moment, as you’ve encouraged all of us to dig deeper here in New York and throughout.
“In that spirit, we know that the houses of worship, the spiritual community, has always been there to help the community get through a storm. These churches have been there through the crack cocaine epidemic to welcome people in while others were rejecting them. Our churches have been there, for instance, to address the high rates of gun violence in our community through gun buyback programs, taking thousands of guns off the streets in their congregation buildings. We also know that these houses of worships, our churches, our spiritual leaders, have been there to partner with the state and with law enforcement organizations like the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office through Begin Again initiatives to address old warrants and summons and citations that can impact the ability of people from communities of color to be able to get all of the opportunities to benefit from our full economy.
“So, now at this moment, thanks to their continued engagement and your leadership and willingness to partner, we can address this COVID-19 pandemic with these houses of worship and religious leaders who have the credibility, the authenticity and the capacity to reach those in the community who need to be tested. Because, at the end of the day, this is not over for any of us until it’s over for all of us. As you’ve indicated, we know that communities of color have been hit particularly hard. We are disproportionately overrepresented amongst our essential frontline workers, live in dense environments and have historically been under-resourced throughout the nation.
“This testing initiative will be incredibly essential to ensure we can turn the corner in communities of color such as those that I represent as well as those represented, of course, by great members of the delegation like Nydia Velázquez, Yvette Clarke, Greg Meeks, Adriano Espaillat and so many others.
“So, thank you, Governor, for your partnership. I thank EBC and the other church coalitions for their initiative and willingness to do what is necessary for us to confront this storm. The scripture says, ‘weeping may endure during the long night, but joy will come in the morning.’ I’m thankful for your leadership, Governor Cuomo, thankful for the partnership with our houses of worship. We’re all going to be there with the community until its morning time in the United States of America once again.”