People in New York City's lower-income neighbourhoods and communities of colour were suffering the most due to the coronavirus pandemic, state Governor Andrew Cuomo said citing official data.
As shown in preliminary results of antibody tests of 8,000 people in New York City, the Bronx Borough, where a majority of residents are African-Americans and Latino-Americans, has the highest COVID-19 positive rate of 34 per cent, compared with a citywide average of 19.9 per cent, Cuomo said at Wednesday's briefing.
Ranking by zip codes, the top 10 highest-infected neighbourhoods were located in the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, home to most of the city's minority groups, reports Xinhua news agency.
The highest rate was recorded in Morrisania, the Bronx, where 43 per cent of residents tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
All the other nine neighbourhoods had a positive rate of over 33 per cent.
Moreover, the coronavirus's spread is continuing in those communities, and "that's where the new cases are coming from", said Cuomo.
To combat the disparities, Cuomo said the state will partner with the state's largest healthcare provider Northwell Health to double church-based testing sites to 44 locations in those hardest-hit neighborhoods.
The state will also expand the testing capacity in 40 locations of New York City Public Housing facilities, where social distancing is hard to maintain due to limited room space.
Meanwhile, the state's Capitol Region, stepped into phase one of reopening on Wednesday, leaving downstate regions New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson as the only ones not qualified for reopening yet.
Meanwhile, statewide religious gatherings with up to 10 people will be allowed as of Thursday, said Cuomo, who added that participants should wear masks and practice social distancing.
It came a day after the Governor announced that Memorial Day ceremonies with the same scale will be allowed to take place next week in the state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city would offer free COVID-19 tests at nursing homes starting next week, due to the large number of infections there.
De Blasio said the city has procured enough personal protective equipment to get through May, including N95 masks, face shields, goggles, gloves, and surgical gowns.
The state of New York has reported over 354,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 28,000 deaths, remaining as the hardest-hitin the country, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
( With inputs from IANS )