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Hempstead gets new COVID-19 testing sites with CARES Act funds

Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin in July.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin in July. Credit: Jeff Bachner

From the minute it was announced that the Town of Hempstead would receive $133 million from the federal CARES Act, the spotlight was bright: Suffolk County got $257.6 million of CARES Act money while Nassau received only $103 million because Hempstead, thanks to a population above the 500,000 direct-funding threshold, took a lot of the pot.

Hempstead Supervisor Donald Clavin has said he knew how much caution was needed, along with bipartisanship: he’s been working with the county, the 23 villages in Hempstead, community organizations, the town board and a law firm to allot the money properly. 

The newest spending was approved by the town board Tuesday morning, $2 million to Northwell Health to fund the operation of 15 coronavirus testing and education sites in the town.

“We will have at least one in every council district but the focus and most of the sites will be in the hardest-hit areas,” Clavin told The Point. He said sites will include churches, community centers and parks.

And Clavin says more news is imminent, with a deal nearly in place to fund personal protective equipment for Hofstra and Adelphi universities, Molloy College and Nassau Community College.

Previous spending approved has included $4 million for food banks, $4 million for local hospitals and $2 million to the Nassau County IDA to provide PPE kits for businesses.

Although county and village officials have lauded Clavin’s attitude, Rep. Kathleen Rice and State Sen. Kevin Thomas held a news conference earlier this month to decry his control over the money.

Asked to respond, Thomas issued a comment stating that because federal stimulus plans from the GOP do not include much-needed aid for local governments, there is an even greater need for accountability and transparency in the distribution of these CARES Act funds. He added that in addition to testing capacity and keeping food banks stocked, the Town of Hempstead should prioritize funding for villages and schools, which are in serious need of resources and support.

And in her response to The Point, Rice had high praise for Northwell and its role in the initiative but none for Clavin or Hempstead, writing, “Since the onset of this crisis, Northwell Health has been an incredible leader and partner in our efforts to get this virus under control. I thank Northwell for establishing these testing facilities and launching new educational programming to prevent renewed spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Both are Democrats facing Republican Hempstead Town officials in their November reelection efforts, with Rice opposed by commissioner of engineering Douglas Tuman and Thomas running against town board member Dennis Dunne Sr.