Queens lawmakers host free COVID-19 antibody testing event in Forest Hills

Antibody 1
(From l .to r.) Rafael Nektalov, ounder and editor of the Bukharian Times and director of The Bukharian Jewish Community Center Rafael Nektalov, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., and Diana Rachnaev, CEO and co-founder of Yesodot Inc. (Photo courtesy of Senator Addabbo’s office)

More than 60 Forest Hills residents were waiting in line at the Bukharian Jewish Community Center on Sunday, Dec. 19, to get tested for COVID-19 antibodies, as cases surge throughout the city due to the emergence of the new omicron variant. 

The free event was sponsored by Senators Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

“These COVID antibody testing events continue to prove to be some of the most popular events of the year,” Addabbo said. “My thanks go out to Senator Stavisky for co-sponsoring this great event in the Forest Hills community, to Valhalla Medics for another successful event, as well as the Bukharian Jewish Community Center for providing us with the space and to Diana with Yesodot for her help in organizing the event.” 

Photo courtesy of Senator Addabbo’s office

Valhalla Medics administered the rapid IgG/IgM antibody test at the community center, located at 106-16 70th Ave. 

The test is done using a nearly painless finger prick to draw a small bead of blood that is transferred for processing. After about a 10-minute wait, patients are given a form with a write-up for their results that is signed by the technician that performed the test. These tests can detect and differentiate between the presence of the short-term (IgM) and the long-term (IgG) antibodies. 

In order to fight the surge of COVID-19 in communities, Addabbo has brought the popular free COVID-19 antibody testing event series to the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Jamaica and Woodhaven. 

Stavisky thanked Addabbo and Valhalla Medics for enabling Queens residents to determine their COVID-19 status. 

“Senator Addabbo and I both represent Rego Park and Forest Hills but COVID does not care about political boundaries,” Stavisky said. “The tests are an important weapon in fighting the surge and our communities will benefit immeasurably.” 

With the spread of the newest omicron COVID variant, city officials are urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated and tested amid the holiday season. 

In Queens, 1,934,600 (86%) of residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 1,761,436 (78%) residents are fully vaccinated, according to the city Health DepartmentIn Forest Hills, with an estimated population of 71,266.52, about 56,182 (78.83%) residents have received one dose of the vaccine, and 52,171 (73.21%) of residents are fully vaccinated. 

Recently, NYC Health + Hospitals released an updated list of Queens COVID-19 walk-in testing sites. No appointment is needed. The PCR and rapid tests are free, and ID and insurance are not required. 

The brick-and-mortar sites and microsites will end testing early on Friday, Dec. 24, at 2 p.m. and will remain closed on Saturday, Dec. 25. These sites will reopen at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 26. Mobile testing units will be closed on Dec. 25.