New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday the state government is launching a campaign to expand access to coronavirus testing in low-income and minority communities, by partnering with Northwell Health to establish 22 temporary testing sites at churches.

He said 226 New Yorkers died on Friday, bringing the death toll in the state to over 21,000. He said neighborhoods with high black and Latino populations were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Cuomo also announced that three children in New York have now died from possible complications from COVID-19. He said this week that 73 children in New York have had severe illness – with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. 

He said New York is helping develop a national criteria for identifying and responding to the syndrome at the request of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The state Department of Health is also partnering on a genome study to try to identify the source of the syndrome in children.

“While rare, we’re seeing some cases where children affected with the COVID virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels,” Cuomo said on Friday. 

“This is every parent’s nightmare, right? That your child may actually be affected by this virus. But it’s something that we have to consider seriously now,” he said.   

Cuomo urged people who believed children could not be affected by the coronavirus to take the news to heart. “We may want to revisit that quote-unquote fact, that assumption,” he said.  

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