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N.Y. officials to test South Bronx areas for Legionnaires'

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiJames Keivom/New York Daily News

State officials will help test cooling towers in the South Bronx this weekend after five tested positive for Legionella bacteria, which causes the sometimes deadly Legionnaires’ disease.

The Opera Hotel is the center of the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the South Bronx.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Opera Hotel is the center of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the South Bronx.

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  • NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
  • NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: The Opera Hotel is viewed in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak Legionnaires disease on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Gov. Cuomo doubled down Friday on his hijacking of the Legionnaires’ disease response, ordering state officials to lead bacterial testing teams across the South Bronx.

The governor made the announcement after a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team — at Cuomo’s invitation — met with state and local health officials in his Manhattan office.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” Cuomo told NY1 after bumping Mayor de Blasio aside in the handling of the lethal outbreak. “This has been going on for a number of days. Ten people have passed away, so I understand the anxiety. It is almost like a bad science-fiction movie.”

The expanded testing for the Legionella bacteria will begin Saturday. Teams led by state health officials will collect samples as the crisis lingers into a fourth week — with 10 reported fatalities and 91 others infected, all in the South Bronx.

Officials said this was the worst outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in city history, with the most fatalities and most people sickened.

Ten people have died of the 101 New Yorkers diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Ten people have died of the 101 New Yorkers diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

State Health Department head Howard Zucker, asked to evaluate the city’s response to the outbreak since its July 12 inception, was initially evasive before offering faint praise.

“The city has a talented team of public health experts there, and we work with them,” Zucker said after the CDC meeting.

Dr. Claressa Lucas of the CDC was kinder: “I think they have done a very good job to mobilize their resources.”

Previous testing in the South Bronx neighborhood where all 101 Legionnaires’ patients were infected was conducted by the city Department of Health.

Unnerved local residents had complained that testing was only done in four local neighborhoods and involved just 21 towers, demanding more testing in the borough.

On Thursday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said the time had come for “all hands on deck” in battling the disease.

Cuomo — one day after offering free testing of all cooling tower samples — promised “a massive testing effort.”

The latest bit of bigfooting in Cuomo’s feud with Blasio began with the governor’s Thursday invitation for the CDC to visit New York.

It is believed the hotel's cooling towers contributed to the outbreak of the disease, which can be contracted when people inhale mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source.James Keivom/New York Daily News

It is believed the hotel’s cooling towers contributed to the outbreak of the disease, which can be contracted when people inhale mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source.

City officials, while in contact with the Atlanta-based agency, initially opted to handle the outbreak without feds on the ground in the Big Apple.

“Patience is not one of Gov. Cuomo’s virtues,” acknowledged Zucker. “The steps that the governor has taken will address not only the health crisis but also the confidence crisis.”

The Legionnaires’ outbreak appeared on the wane Friday, with just one new reported case of the disease and no new fatalities.

“We now see the frequencies of the diagnoses decreasing,” said city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. “We’re optimistic that we’ve seen the worst of this outbreak.”

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edurkin@nydailynews.com

Tags:
andrew cuomo ,
bill de blasio

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