Queens neighborhood gets free COVID tests

Attorney Lara Gregory with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards: ‘We’re only as strong as the most vulnerable in our community.’

On a frigid January 30 morning, Rosalia Lapena walked two blocks to Monarch Clinic on Woodside and saw a line forming. The long-time Queens resident was among the 50 people who got tested – or swabbed — for free for possible Coronavirus infection by way of a PCR COVID-19 test.

“This is a very much-needed community service in these very trying times,” said the 70-year-old Rosalia who lives in the neighborhood.

The nasal testing didn’t seem to bother her; neither did the long line. “It was very heartening to see how everyone did everything so well for all those who came,” she said, as she and others in line chatted about the deadly virus and the vaccine treatment that couldn’t come soon enough.

Swab and Save Lives is an initiative of lawyer Lara Gregory, the founder of Legal Good, and was launched on January 27, via Zoom. The free COVID testing held three days after its launch was in partnership with Monarch Clinic whose owner is FilAm Dr. Alice Almendral.

“We’re only as strong as the most vulnerable in our community,” said Gregory who spoke at the beginning of the testing. She said the swabbing was not limited to Filipino Americans but those who came were mostly FilAms and a couple of South Asians.

A Zoom meeting to launch the Swab and Save Lives initiative.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards was in attendance during the testing and commended the community initiative.

He said, “There is a need to build confidence in the community in the process of COVID-19 testing and vaccination and having community leaders and members initiate activities such as these go a long way in this effort.”

Swab and Save Lives had the support  of key borough officials, such as Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

“We want all inhabitants of Queens to be safe and to keep healthy during the pandemic,” she said. “All the resources of our Office are available to the diverse Queens community so they know particularly during the pandemic, they can rely on our office to respond to their concerns.”

A second swabbing is being planned for February 6, said Gregory.

The Philippine Consulate’s Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate said, “We’re all in this together and the only way to fight this is for everyone in the community to continue wearing masks, observe social distancing, wash hands often and to get tested for COVID-19.”

Among the organizations that manifested their support were 1199 SEIU represented by Maria Castaneda, National Alliance of Filipino Concerns, Foundation for Filipino Artists, Inc., and Kinding Sindaw.

At the height of the pandemic, Legal Good held webinars on the moratorium on eviction, pandemic unemployment compensation, and released particulars on New York City real property tax program — all “designed to assist the community informed of rules, regulations and policies that will help them as they survive the pandemic,” said Gregory. Legal Good also delivered care packages to Queens neighborhoods.

For more information on Swab and Save Lives, please email legalgoodny@gmail.com

NaFFAA continues to update its list of newly elected, re-elected Filipino American officials in 2020. Email info@naffaa.org for information.

© The FilAm 2021

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