NYC scrambling to keep up with demand for COVID tests

NYC Scrambles To Fix COVID Testing Woes After Long Lines, Waits

Demand for COVID-19 testing doubled in the last three weeks, and now tops 130,000 tests a day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said

by Matthew Troutman

Posted Mon, Dec 20, 2021 at 11:56 am ET|

Updated Mon, Dec 20, 2021 at 12:22 pm ET

People wait in line to get tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site in Times Square on Dec. 17.
People wait in line to get tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site in Times Square on Dec. 17. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

NEW YORK CITY — Frightened and frustrated New Yorkers who recently waited hours for COVID-19 tests won’t have the same experience this week, officials said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio promised Monday that officials will take steps to correct a flat-footed testing response to the growing omicron surge.

He said the city now runs more than 130,000 tests a day — a record number that overwhelmed sites in the past week.

“That is double the number of tests just three weeks ago,” he said.

“Not a surprise, we’re finding the supplies are becoming a challenge because all over the country testing is going up suddenly,” he said.

Find out what’s happening in Upper West Side with free, real-time updates from Patch.

Let’s go!

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday the city will open more COVID-19 testing sites this week. (NYC Mayor’s Office)

New York City will open 23 more testing sites this week, bringing the total of city-run sites to 112, de Blasio said.

“Today you’ll see the sites run better,” said Mitch Katz, who heads the city’s Health + Hospitals.

The omicron surge clearly caught health officials by surprise. It resulted in long lines for New Yorkers and difficulty for many people to find testing locations in their neighborhoods.

Even with all the troubles, test results have come back — and they show a dire situation. New York state has broken its new positive COVID case count record three days in a row, with another 22,478 people testing positive on Sunday — 12,404 of which who live in New York City, according to data.

The surge in cases came as the city had shifted its testing strategy at some locations.

De Blasio and his team closed 20 brick and mortar testing sites ahead of the surge, THE CITY first reported.

Katz said those closures were part of a shift to more mobile testings sites, which were in greater need at the time. Those 20 brick and mortar sites are being reopened, officials said.

“I’m sorry that demand was so enormous over the last few days,” he said. “We did not anticipate so much news about omicron. We did not anticipate that the supply chain would run out of the home tests.”

The city will distribute more at-home COVID-19 tests at testing site to ease long waits, de Blasio said. He said health officials also will conduct “quality control” on testing locations run by vendors to ensure they’re being properly run and staffed.

New Yorkers can find testing locations by clicking here.

Related coverage:

COVID-19 Testing In Greenwich Village: Here Are 9 Locations

COVID Testing In Washington Heights, Inwood: Here Are 9 Locations

COVID-19 Testing On The Upper West Side: Here Are 11 Locations

Fear Grips NYC As COVID Surges, Omicron Spreads

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