Officials in New York City are setting high goals for testing in the coming weeks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wants to have 140,000 people tested for coronavirus antibodies by early next month.
The antibody tests, which can show whether a person has been infected with COVID-19 at any point, will be offered for free by appointment.
The results, which will be available in one to two days, will also be used for research, according to the mayor.
Researchers are unsure whether coronavirus antibodies provide immunity from being exposed again.
The human body typically produces antibodies days or weeks after fighting off an infection.
“We are not promising people a rose garden here,” de Blasio said. “We’re not saying the antibody test is the last word. It’s not. But it tells you something.”
We’ve made real progress in the COVID-19 battle, but we haven’t won the war yet. But thanks to frontline heroes like the team at Interfaith Medical in Brooklyn I’m confident we’ll overcome this crisis.#ClapBecauseWeCare pic.twitter.com/SkRZ9rFIG8
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 7, 2020
The city will use tests made by BioReference Laboratories for the free program.
Nearly 27,000 workers at health care centers in the New York City area have already been tested for antibodies.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that those health care workers tested positive for antibodies at a lower rate than the general population.
Cuomo added the outcome from those tests shows the effectiveness of protective masks and gloves for front-line workers.
“That is amazingly good news,” he stated. “We were afraid of what was going to happen.”
The survey found that 12 percent of health care workers in New York City tested positive for antibodies, compared with 20 percent for the general population in the city.
New York is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, with nearly 324,000 cases and about 21,000 deaths as of Thursday.