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Long Lines Form Outside COVID-19 Testing Centers in Queens as Cases Surge

COVID-19 testing line Long Island City

Residents waiting in line for a COVID-19 test Friday outside the CityMD urgent care facility near Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Dec. 17, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

Residents have been braving the cold weather and forming long lines outside testing centers in Queens—and throughout New York City—over the past few days in order to get a COVID-19 examination.

The line for tests stretched an entire block Friday afternoon outside the CityMD urgent care facility near Queensboro Plaza as demand surges ahead of the holiday season while cases begin to climb.

Residents said they were waiting in line for around two hours outside the 25-18 Queens Plaza South facility urgent care facility — before getting through the doors to fill out a test application form. The line was much longer Friday morning, stretching back around the block.

The majority of people in line said they were getting tested as a precautionary measure before meeting up with loved ones during the holidays. Others feared they may have been struck down with COVID-19.

The long lines also appear to be driven by a shortage of available testing sites.

For instance, the number of city-operated testing centers dropped from 54 last month to 31 operating as of Wednesday, according to an analysis by THE CITY. However, the city did expand its mobile testing fleet last month and announced further capacity increases yesterday.

“The mayor and the doctors were wrong to close some of the sites,” said an elderly woman who was waiting in line outside CityMD. The woman requires a walker to get around.

“They knew the holidays were coming, so how can you want everyone to take the test and at the same time you are closing sites, it doesn’t make sense.”

COVID-19 testing line Long Island City

Residents waiting in line for a COVID-19 test Friday (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

A woman using a walker waiting in line in Long Island City Friday (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

The number of coronavirus cases in Queens has spiked in recent weeks with the 7-day average in the World’s borough rising from 411 on Nov. 25 to 905 on Dec. 13.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have also increased in Queens with the 7-day average jumping from 14 on Nov. 24 to 22 on Dec. 13. The 7-day average for deaths for the same time period has remained steady at 3.

Coronavirus cases in Queens on a 7-day average (Photo Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene)

Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said at a press briefing Thursday that transmissions across the 5 boroughs are spreading at an “alarming rate” and are being driven by the dominant Delta variant mixed with the fast-spreading Omicron variant which is now responsible for 13 percent of cases.

However, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the press briefing that Omicron does not appear to be more dangerous than Delta.

Still, fear of the new variant appears to be prompting many people to get tested, adding to the long lines.

“People are definitely more paranoid about Omicron and are coming out to get a test as a precaution,” said Iggy Saldana, 30, a Long Island City resident who was waiting in line outside CityMD.

“But to be waiting in a line for over two hours is ridiculous, especially if you have a job or a family or any other responsibilities.”

Another woman waiting in line said testing centers should provide an option for people to book test appointments ahead of time. She said this would help reduce the long wait times.

Meanwhile, de Blasio said the city is ramping up its testing capacity by creating more mobile as well as brick-and-mortar sites. Hours will also be expanded at existing sites, he said.

Furthermore, the mayor said the city will work with community organizations to distribute 500,000 rapid at-home tests to New Yorkers for free.

“Getting tested is absolutely crucial,” de Blasio said.

“When you get tested, if, God forbid, you have a case of COVID, you quarantine, it helps keep everyone else safe.”

COVID-19 testing line Long Island City

A woman looks inside CityMD while waiting in line for a COVID-19 test (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

(Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Residents waiting in line for a COVID-19 test Friday (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

COVID-19 testing line Long Island City

Queens residents waiting in line for a COVID-19 test Friday (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

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52 Comments

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john B

Now that the virus is not discriminating, “everyone” is worry! wish they were this concern in the beginning!

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VP

As someone who wanted to visit a walk-in clinic this weekend for something that wasn’t a Covid test, it was incredibly discouraging. I wasn’t going to wait hours in a line, yet my issue wasn’t serious enough to go to the ER (where I’d also probably have to wait for hours). And good luck trying to get a doctor to return a call on a weekend.

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CC

Many are just waiting in line for the experience. I saw people waiting outside taking selfies while complaining on line about the wait time.

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Vincenzo

This is among the dumbest comments I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something since I look at this comment section for the right-wing kooks pretty regularly.

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Over it

Just because their opinion isn’t the same as yours doesn’t make it “ right wing”
Stop using that same narrative over and over try something original, it’s overly used already and so stupid and most of time totally inaccurate
and they are right , there’s a bunch of morons lined up just to test without having true symptoms !
It’s a damn virus ! And mild one at that ! Live with it like the other viruses we have on this planet !

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Vincenzo

Please work on your reading comprehension. I did not accuse you of being right-wing. I accused you (correctly) of making a stupid comment.

Thank you.

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Gardens Watcher

Over it—Testing is not just for those with symptoms. Some need a negative test result to travel, some have been exposed to Covid but have not yet developed symptoms, and some want to test to protect the family and friends they plan to visit soon. They are not morons.

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Rosita

I pray that Biden sends the people another stimulus check to get through this covid surge. Many people are suffering and losing their jobs.

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Gia

I think he will announce free masks and at home covid tests today. Too cold to wait outside. America is back!

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Gardens Watcher

The midday line at the Woodside NYCHA at
50-37 Newtown Road at Northern Blvd. was not too long today. Outdoor mobile unit, so no indoor air.

Sure miss the trailers on Northern Blvd.

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There is stupid then there is Fox Stupid

Lib- Who is talking fear? Do you have trouble distinguishing fear from caution?

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Rachel

Have you been to one of the testing sites? People are panicking. Pushing and screaming in some areas to get a kit. There are so many posts about people complaining and urgent care centers shutting down because their staff are threatening to quit because of the fear and chaos. In a city of over 8 million people there is bound to be panic. Outside of a major city there is more of a caution atmosphere.

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Linda

The holidays are one week away. Covid Cases in nyc are surging. New Yorkers will once again spread omicron to other states as they go home for the holidays. You can still have covid even if you do not show symptoms. Most people are not getting tested.

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Dougal

Too bad it’s not a joke. I personally know three people who died from covid, three more friends of my mom and the countless deaths my brother saw in his hospital ER in Queens.

Get vaxxed, boosted and wear your masks, friends.

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Annette T.

Can someone explain if no symptoms why it shows as positive when one get tested ? I begin to wonder the accuracy of these covid test. Everyone thought once the vaccine came about this will all be done .But it still here and if you are vaccinated or not it still can get you. Faucci
its time for you togo out to pasture graze the grass

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Morris

Simple: 40% of Covid cases have no symptoms. You have covid, you just don’t feel sick, like 40% of the others. You still need to isolate.

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There is stupid then there is Fox Stupid

Annette- 1- A test will test to determine the presence of the virus or antibodies. 2- The vaccines were designed to prevent severe illness and keep people from being hospitalized. The virus has an abnormally high hospitalization rate and cripples the healthcare system. Blame Dr. Fauci because the orange reality game show imbecile you elected president believed you could cure Covid with a dose of bleach? Thanks for the Fox deflection.

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There is stupid and then there is Rachel Madcow stupid.

Seriously, what is your obsession with Fox News? Stop watching it if you can’t handle any news that hasn’t been stamped and approved by the DNC.

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Obsessive Fox guy has a point

@Mad cow -What’s with your cult like response? Fox guy hasn’t shown party affiliation. Are you upset because he calls their viewers stupid? To be anti Fox one must be pro-MSNBC? Cult like devotion and behavior is evident in your response.

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Gardens Watcher

Annette T. – Covid-19 has been able to spread with NO symptoms since the beginning. It can spread by aerosols in the air, and the Omicron variant is even more transmissible than the original virus or the Delta variant.

The Covid vaccines are not a force field. You can still catch Covid even if vaccinated and boosted, but you will be less likely to get really sick — sick enough to be hospitalized. If you test positive, you should call your doctor, stay home and quarantine yourself for 10 days.

We still need to wash our hands, wear masks, practice social distancing and stay out of crowded indoor spaces.

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Gardens Watcher

Correction: if you test positive, you should ISOLATE yourself from others for 10 full days. If you develop symptoms during that time, according to the CDC, you should start the 10-day clock over.

You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus and may or may not have been infected. But people who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had Covid unless they have symptoms. You should get tested 5 to 7 days after exposure, watch out for symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. If you develop symptoms, you need to self-isolate and contact your doctor.

You isolate when you have been infected with the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms. See the CDC website (cdc.gov) for more details.

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Chris

Media is confusing. They are telling us to be very careful about the Surge and to worry and then they are saying that all the cases are mild so far and that we should go on with our lives and holiday shop.

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Rebecca

Business are still allowing people indoors without masks and very few people are monitoring social distancing. I see it all over the place in Queens in supermarkets, pharmacies, clothes and housing apparel shops Etc. No one is enforcing the Mask mandate just like all the other quality-of-life issues in New York City.

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Karen

Rebecca- People are enforcing mandates. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not being done. There were people arrested at Queens Center for not obeying the mandate.

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Sue

The qns center arrests was a sit in protest and they choose a big chain restaurant because they actually ask for proof. I been to bars restaurants and cafes where no one asked for proof. For every place that does there is another a block away that doesnt. It also depends on the neighborhood and clientele. Its all over social media and no one is enforcing the mandates when they are broken.

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Bench warmer

And? It’s a virus ! It will be here forever so either stay home in fear or live with it ! Covid is the least of my concerns , I’m more concerned not getting stabbed walking the down the street or getting pushed on the tracks by a random looney and why are my groceries so damn high ?

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Bench warmer

Righhtttttttt , actually I have a better chance getting killed by a bike going the wrong way

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Morris

Except that you don’t. Bicycles kill a tiny number of people each year. The virus has killed over 800,000 of your fellow countrymen. Come on. Get serious, just for a minute. This is not about your politics, it’s about saving lives.

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Bench warmer

I am aware many have died sadly ( (mostly due to being older and having an under lining health issue ) but many die much more from cancer and diabetes
Covid isn’t just killing off people off like flies ! I’m sorry but it is just not! We need to move on , except it and be cautious always but we have to live with it like many many many other viruses we have on this planet
I would appreciate if the government gave us options on how to keep our immune system healthy during the cold and flu season as well !
That’s what our immune systems are for

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Morris

They do. Flu shots are freely available virtually anywhere you go in the city.

Of course most covid cases resolve, but many do not. And that’s not to speak of long covid and its effects on those who are infected, a not insignificant number of people.

I appreciate that you are being cautious, but your cautious to cavalier ratio strikes me as a little too low.

And the things you claim to be worried about are, frankly, way, way overblown. None of them is even remotely as deadly as covid, despite its high survival rates. That’s the problem.

100 million people infected, 99% survival rate is still a million people dead who should still be with us.

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Tj

The media loves blaming holidays like Thanksgiving for the surge. But this was happening throughout Africa and Europe last month and they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

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Morris

People gathering together makes the virus easier to spread. It’s not as though the holiday itself caused transmission, it’s the getting together and dropping guard that did it.

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