New York City residents report long lines at COVID testing sites; Check The Wait – CBS New York – BoilingNews


NEW YORK (CBSNew York) — From new variants to holiday gatherings, the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in the Big Apple.

The situation is overwhelming for test sites and people waiting in line.

Jenna DeAngelis of CBS2 has more about how the city wants to handle this.

FIND TEST SITES: Click here for the New York City test site locator, including mobile sites and home appointments

AVOID THE LINES: Click here for NYC Health+Hospitals testing wait times

New holiday season, same old story: long lines and waiting times at test sites around the five boroughs, from one mobile van on the Upper West Side to another in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

“I’ve been here every week for the past one and a half, two months, and until this week I’ve only waited five minutes at most,” said Crown Heights’ Ezra Benus.

On Thursday, Benus said he had waited an hour and a half.

“This is after coming twice yesterday and then not being able to be tested here,” Benus said.

“I was surprised that there was this line today, but I decided to hold out because of the new variants,” said SoHo’s Al Diraffaele.

“I think there definitely has to be a better way, at least a way to know when the lines aren’t long,” added Midtown’s Jackie Coleman.

COVID VACCINE

And home tests are flying off the shelves. Bowen Pharmacy’s pharmacist said it was in so much demand that he could only order a dozen.

“All 12 came in this morning and all 12 are sold out,” said Michael Morelli.

Michael Carugan of Value Drugs in Eastchester said he can’t keep enough on the shelves.

“Probably within the hour we sold 23 test kits in the hour… They’re flying off the counter, I must say,” Carugan told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.

But the box of two tests costs about $30, prompting many to call on the government to give them away for free.

“It’s just infuriating that almost two years after this pandemic, it’s still so difficult to get a test,” said City Councilman Mark Levine, chair of the Health Commission.

Levine has fought for supply to meet demand.

“The city, state and federal governments need to use their purchasing power to buy millions of quick self-tests that can then be distributed in places like libraries and also sent to people’s homes on request,” Levine said.

For starters, the city will distribute 500,000 home tests through community organizations. It’s part of a plan the city announced Thursday, which will include increasing testing capacity.

“New permanent test sites and we will expand hours and capacity at many of our existing sites,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“If you come to one of our Test & Trace Corps physical sites and there’s a line, we’re going to arm that site with home testing,” said Dr. Ted Long.

CORONA PANDEMIA

Many medical experts think frequent home testing could be our way out of the pandemic, but CBS2 wanted to know if they really do the job?

“So the home tests are less effective than the lab tests,” said COVID medical advisor Dt. said Stuart Weiss.

However, Weiss said the tests could be very useful right now, especially if you’re visiting around the holidays.

“If you’re going to visit grandma tonight, I’d do a home test on the day I’m going to visit grandma. What they are very good at. Within about six hours of an event, the home test is very good,” Weiss said.

Of course, the Omicron variant changes everything, and the Centers for Disease Control are investigating whether the at-home tests are effective at detecting it.

“We think the home tests will be okay because they’re looking at some part of the virus that should stay constant, but that data is still not available,” Weiss said.

All this in response to a huge spike. The city says the seven-day average for new cases has tripled in the past month. The number of cases has risen by nearly 50% nationwide since last month. The CDC says that while the Delta variant remains the dominant strain, Omicron cases double every two days.

“I think we need to keep protecting each other, and vaccinating and testing is very important,” Benus said.

And the vaccine is a gift available to everyone this holiday season.

If you’d like to get tested, before going to any city site, check the wait times listed above or scan the QR code in the video above.

Dick Brennan of CBS2 contributed to this report.

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