Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, speaks at a news conference as the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives at Pier 90 in New York, U.S., on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New York City will need to run “hundreds of thousands” of coronavirus tests a day before officials can ease social distancing guidelines, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday. 

“To get to low-level transmission and to hold onto it, you need a huge amount of testing. Not just tens of thousands of tests per day but as many as hundreds of thousands tests per day for a city of 8.6 million people,” de Blasio said at a press conference. 

There is still widespread transmission throughout the city, meaning that health officials aren’t able to trace the origin of most Covid-19 cases and residents need to maintain social distancing to contain the outbreak, de Blasio said. To get to the next phase of the outbreak, low-level transmission, the city needs greater testing so that it can isolate individual cases faster and trace and isolate the patient’s contacts, de Blasio said. 

To prepare for the next phase, the city is building teams of medical personnel to conduct contact tracing, which is labor-intensive. They are also identifying public sites where people can get tested, de Blasio said. He said the city will begin manufacturing its own test kits at the beginning of May since the federal government has failed to provide an adequate amount. 

“We have to be ready to push into that phase, that low-level transmission phase, that we all want to get to,” de Blasio said. “We have to have all the building blocks in place even while we’re fighting to get the testing we need, we have to have the building blocks in place.”

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates. 

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