Horse racing has been suspended at Aqueduct Race Track, adding to the long list of spectator sports which have ceased operations in the past weeks in an attempt to flatten the expected curve of the coronavirus outbreak.
A new attraction, however, has been established in the racetrack’s parking lot. SOMOS NY has designated the South Ozone Park facility as a drive-through Health Testing Center site for the COVID-19 virus.
Testing is currently accessible to patients who have been referred by a medical professional and have a prescription to be tested for the coronavirus.
“Many of my constituents are relieved to learn that a Coronavirus testing site is opening at the Aqueduct Racetrack parking lot,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) in a press release. “It is in times of emergency that we come together to help others, and this is why I appreciate the provider SOMOS NY, the city and the Port Authority for working towards making this site available. We must increase the number of testing sites if we are to identify those in need of medical attention and to credibly reduce the spread of this fatal virus.”
The New York Racing Association suspended live horse racing until further notice after a worker who lives and works at Belmont Park tested positive for the virus the week before.
“This individual and his roommate have been in isolation prior to racing last Friday and as such did not travel to Aqueduct for live racing,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “We are working with the county and state departments of health to ensure proper quarantine and sterilization practices will continue to be followed moving forward. We are focused on ensuring the health and safety of our entire backstretch community, as well as the horses in their care.”
NYRA has contracted with multiple outside cleaning vendors recommended by the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
“Accordingly, we are immediately suspending racing operations until further notice to devote all our attention and resources to this effort,” added O’Rourke.
A decision regarding the resumption of live racing and the upcoming Aqueduct stakes schedule, including the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial set to be presented by Resorts World Casino on April 4, will be announced at a later date.
“At this point in the COVID-19 crisis, we all need to be 100 percent focused on the health of our staff and the welfare of our horses,” New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Joe Applebaum said in a statement. “When the industry comes out the other side of this, and we will, having as many healthy horses and humans as possible will be paramount.”
More than 600 persons concerned that they might’ve been infected have come to Aqueduct since the drive-through testing facility opened on March 18 according to SOMOS NY. The testing site will remain until the end of March. For information regarding testing, call 883-766 6769.