Thorough Testing Done in Coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
State Continuing to Offer Free Testing to Owners and Operators of Buildings that can be Sources of the Bacteria
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today dispatched approximately 150 trained officials and support staff in the Bronx to facilitate widespread testing for Legionella bacteria in water tower cooling systems. The officials are led by the State Department of Health, and testing is being done in close coordination with the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
A number of state agencies are participating in the today’s effort, including the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of State, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Fire Prevention and Control, New York State Police and State Park Police.
"Today we're putting boots on the ground to safeguard the public health and bolster the confidence of a hard-hit community," Governor Cuomo said. "We have one simple message for the people of the Bronx: we are here to help.”
The Governor’s deployment of these testing teams follows his announcement on Thursday that the state is offering free Legionella testing to building owners, operators, managers and landlords of buildings with cooling towers or evaporative condenser units that can be sources of the bacteria. This testing is being offered free of charge, and two hotlines have been set up to further support the collection of testing samples. Those numbers are 888-769-7243 and 518-485-1159, and are staffed by trained operators Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Jim Malatras, Director of State Operations, said, “Today we are bringing together significant resources to counter this spread of Legionnaires’ Disease. New Yorkers should know that we are working around the clock to address this outbreak and protect our communities.”
Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the State Department of Health, said, “This is an intensive, coordinated operation to protect the public health. Specially trained teams throughout the Bronx to evaluate cooling tower systems and collect samples that will be tested for Legionella at New York State’s laboratory. I am confident that our efforts will help keep New Yorkers safe.”
This testing support also helps building owners and operators comply with the recent order from New York City that towers with the potential to become sources of Legionella bacteria be tested before mid-August. Today, the State’s teams are focusing primarily on nursing homes and residential complexes.
Building owners, operators, managers, and landlords who wish to have DOH test for Legionella can also send the name and address to which the kit should be mailed, and a working phone number to: [email protected]. DOH will send an appropriate sampling kit with simple instructions for sample collection.
The State DOH will provide results of the tests, and when the test shows dangerous levels of Legionella or other bacteria. When tests show dangerous levels of bacteria, the State will work with property owners and managers to facilitate prompt disinfection.