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Queens Officials Call on de Blasio to Add More COVID Testing Sites in Western Queens

Queens officials called for more COVID-19 test centers in western Queens during a virtual press conference Tuesday (Screenshot of Zoom call)

Dec. 21, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Queens officials are calling on the mayor to add more COVID-19 testing sites in western Queens — especially sites capable of testing children too young to receive the vaccine.

Nine elected officials from Queens held various press conferences Tuesday to demand the city open more COVID-19 testing sites in the borough as residents wait in long lines —often for hours—outside existing facilities.

“It is not right that older adults and other medically fragile people are waiting for tests for two to three hours, only to be turned away,” Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas said at a virtual press conference she organized alongside other elected officials.

Their calls for greater testing capacity come as new COVID-19 cases skyrocket in the city due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. The seven-day average of new cases in NYC is more than 9,000 per day, according to city data.

Several officials specifically called on the mayor to open more sites that offer COVID-19 testing for children under age four. Currently, just three city-run test sites in the whole borough are capable of testing children as young as two-years-old and zero offer testing for infants.

“The appalling lack of testing sites in Queens for toddlers is something that needs to be addressed immediately by our city,” Council Member-elect Shekar Krishnan said at the press conference organized by González-Rojas.

Testing for children age four and younger is urgently needed because they are not yet eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and are more vulnerable to contracting the virus, he added.

“The problem is, again, toddlers are one of our most vulnerable at-risk populations because they’re not vaccinated,” Krishnan, who is the father of a three-year-old boy, said. “When I think about contracting COVID I’m most worried… about our toddler who isn’t vaccinated, and the effects that will have on him.”

A Jackson Heights mother who joined the virtual press conference said her two-year-old son has contracted COVID-19. She purchased a $30 at-home rapid test to test him because Elmhurst Hospital is the only facility in her area capable of testing children under four years old.

“The parents in our community have been scrambling to find reliable testing for the young ones for months now,” Kisha Bari said. “And with all of the kids at daycare and preschool, every single toddler illness has COVID symptoms so testing [is] imperative for the well-being of our entire community.”

Bari said that several test sites that offered COVID testing of toddlers, including one at LaGuardia airport and another on Nothern Boulevard, were shuttered by the city and replaced by mobile sites that only provide testing of children four and up — if they were replaced at all.

“Now with the wave of Omicron we cannot expect a[n unvaccinated] two-year-old to be waiting for two hours in a line to get a COVID test,” she said. “I can’t even express how terrifying that is for us.”

The rise in demand for testing comes about a month after the city closed down 20 city-run sites across the five boroughs.

The pols said the city’s decision was nonsensical ahead of the holiday gatherings and colder weather. They added that the mobile testing centers, which the city has deployed to replace the shuttered sites — like those at LaGuardia and JFK airports — are not adequate.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, who held his own in-person press conference at Athens Square Park, said the city needs to create permanent testing sites rather than mobile sites, which are often moved around the city.

“Western Queens is underserved by the number of testing sites available, and we need more – now,” Gianaris said. “I urge the city to create a stronger program of permanent test sites — and do so quickly — so we can keep all our neighbors safe.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani and Council Member Tiffany Cabán call on the city to open more COVID-19 test sites in Astoria at a press conference Tuesday (Sen. Michael Gianaris’ Office)

Council Member Tiffany Cabán said the city knew what was coming with Omicron — having witnessed what happened in South Africa — and should have been prepared, but instead failed to protect New Yorkers by shuttering test sites.

Likewise, Assembly Member Catalina Cruz said she was saddened by the mayoral administration’s failure to foresee the rise in cases and be ready for it.

“I think, if anything, we learned over the last year is to not wait to the last minute to kind of try to figure out how to fix the issue at hand,” Cruz said at the virtual presser.

Council Member-elect Julie Won experienced the lack of testing first-hand. Won, who is seven months pregnant, tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday five days after being exposed to someone who was positive.

Won said she woke up Sunday with “excruciating pain in my ears, my throat and had trouble breathing.”

“You can imagine the amount of fear that was running through our brains, as we were figuring out what to do next and how to move quickly,” she said.

Pregnant women are at greater risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Won was only able to secure a test at Elmhurst Hospital after trying and failing to get tested at various sites over a five-day period. She said she was turned away from three other sites she tried including a mobile site where she waited in line for two and a half hours in the cold rain.

“Nobody should be getting turned away when it’s a matter of life and death,” Won said.

City-run COVID-19 test sites in Queens this week

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42 Comments

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Beth

Zohran Mamdani and Tiffany Cabán look so thrilled to be standing next to Michael Gianaris in the pic. I think he will be voted out next election.

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Gardens Watcher

We are all going to eventually get it. It is unrealistic to think otherwise. It is important to prepare yourself in the eventuality your number is called. Get the vax, Take Vitamin D. Mask up.

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Lou

You left out social distancing!! No one is doing that. They are all packed like sardines at the airport trying to go home for the holidays or vacation and spread omicron to other states.

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obama was right

basically biden didnt think tests would be needed in 2021.
add yet another crises to the list of crises he caused and is clueless to deal with.

– still got people stuck in Afghanistan
– crazy inflation due to his overspending when the is economy decent
– gas prices, us pipeline cancelled, russian pipeline approved
– border chaos, releasing unknown people into the US w no testing
– rampant high crime – due to democrats defund the police BS
– shipping crisis, empty shelves
– labor shortage
– Squad pushing him around, he is no leader, looking weak
– “Winter of Death” is his Christmas message for America

am I missing something?

we should have listened to Obama: “Never underestimate the ability of Joe Biden the f*** things up”

pray for America

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John J. Lynch

To address each of your points:
-yep, it was a sloppy retreat, but he did get us out.
-the inflation is caused by the lock down and then increased demand after it was lifted, not by the spending.
-the gas companies are refusing to pump more as they are trying to recoup losses during the lockdown-the stoppage of the pipeline has nothing to do with it.
-yep, high crime rate because of local dems, not the White House.
-empty shelves are the result of a supply line that was created to run super efficiently, and when the demand came back they have been overwhelmed. That’s a business issue, not a White House issue.
-the labor shortage is a direct result of crappy jobs that people don’t/won’t do anymore. An example: there is no shortage of truck drivers, just a shortage of people not willing to be away from home months at a time for subpar wages.
-the Squad is not pushing anyone around..a single Dem Senator who is a Republican in Dem clothing is doing that.
-“Winter of Death” huh? I never got that message.

I pray that America does not re-elect the Orange Menace, that’s what I pray for.

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Someone should build a wall or something

Agreed, Trump says he’d get Mexico to make a “one-time payment” for The Wall. Instead the taxpayers bought a pile of steel beams rusting in Arizona. Then again, if you can’t even secure the Capitol, you can’t secure the entire nation.

Does your rant have something to do with COVID testing in Sunnyside or you just regurgitate it a lot?

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Turkey has crazy inflation not US

Crazy inflation is a world wide phenomenon.US inflation is only about 6% Not so crazy.

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Kim

If you can wait an hour or two outside in the cold to take a test because you need official results then chances are you are feeling well to ok. Catching covid and documenting it on social media became trendy. Then came the social media posts about getting your covid shot and free donut. That died down a bit. Now wait time to get tested and dealing with covid omicron is the next trend on social media. For the likes. Just hope the nurses and doctors do not start the song and dance 💃videos again.

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ABoondy

i thought Deblasio released them all, which is why we have several violent attacks every day. i dont think there has been one prosecution in years.

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Gardens Watcher

That is really disgusting. I hope you and your roommate are vaccinated and boosted, wear masks and practice social distancing. Somehow I get the feeling you both don’t bother doing any of that.

Those of us who are most at risk, who are doing everything possible to avoid getting Covid, who have family members putting their lives and their family’s lives on the line every single day working the frontlines in hospitals, are not gullible. We’re just fed up with selfish people like you.

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nicole

@Gardens Watcher. Oh please. They are already planning to reduce the recommended quarantine time after you test positive. Most people are not following those guidelines unless they are in the hospital. Since more top health officials are testing positive they now realize how staying home for 10 days is boring and not feasible. But like the rest of us they can not be seen in public or risk losing their jobs. That’s right they will tell you to wear a cheap mask and get back to work. Eventually they will reduce the recommended quarantine close to nothing when they tell us covid will stick around for years and handle it like the flu and tell us to stay home if you have a fever. How else are they going to get paid and get their free N95 masks.
https://nypost.com/2021/12/22/rochelle-walensky-says-shortened-covid-quarantine-time-could-come-soon/

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Gardens Watcher

The stay-at-home guidelines may get relaxed to five or six days, but not five or six hours. It is dangerous and irresponsible to run out and go shopping and eat in a restaurant right after a positive test result.

Covid will mutate, and the next variant may not be so mild. Worse than that, the vaccines may lose their effectiveness. Nobody knows for sure what direction this virus will take. Maybe you don’t care about that, but most of us do.

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Roz

Nope…if you are boosted you no longer have to quarantine despite testing positive. Thats right they are treating covid like the flu. Stay home if you have high fever and thats about it. Happy new year and get back to work!!! If youre old or unhealthy well that’s on you.

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Gardens Watcher

Wrong Roz. Per the CDC’s website info updated 12/27:

“people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”

Not everyone gets better in five days either. Upgrade your masks and wear them properly — a chin guard is worthless.
Happy new year.

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Gardens Watcher

Kids under 5 can’t get a vaccine either, Roz. Is that on them too if they catch Covid? Do you not care about your mom or your grandma, or were you raised by wolves?

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phantomtollbooth

@Debra you are right there can be false positive tests but can you provide your source(s) for that information? Are you referring to rapid antigen or PCR? Are you referring to at home tests or ones administered professionally?

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Sasha

Just two weeks ago many were all wearing Santa costumes and getting drunk at Santathon..Now many are all waiting in line to get tested… 🎅🍺…🤒 🤔 😷…😭

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jess

First it was 15 days to flatten the curve. Then 3 months to flatten the curve Then wait until there’s a vaccine Then when the elderly and at risk are vaccinated Then when 50% are vaccinated Then when 70% are vaccinated​…Now what? Even if everyone got vaccinated, there would still be new variants, new boosters, and “spiking cases”.

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Gia

If you think people are waiting in line to get tested so they could quarantine and protect others from the virus you’re very gullible. My roommate tested positive just the other day got off from work and went Christmas shopping with friends the next day. Said she took a Tylenol and she felt better. Tonight she’s planning on having dinner in the city and visiting the Rockefeller Christmas tree. With nyc being full of people mild symptoms will not keep most of us home.

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Gardens Watcher

Did you catch Covid yet, and How’s your friend doing now? Guess your roommate doesn’t care about you. Who’s gullible now?

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Caroline

Employers are requiring proof of a covid positive test from employees to stay home from work. So far most cases of omicron are mild. So if people want a week off from work to vacation with mild symptoms around the city or go away for the holidays they have to provide proof to their employers.

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Gardens Watcher

If I was the employer and was paying for their sick time off, I would find a way to monitor them.

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Mike

People are being conditioned to believe any COVID is a death sentence. I thought this Omicron COVID is supposed to have mild symptoms. All COVID still has over a 98% recovery rate.

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Jacob

US population according to the census: 331,449,281

98% of 331,449,281 = 324,820,295.38

2% of 331,449,281 = 6,628,985.62

So you’re cool with 6,628,985 dead Americans?

Almost 7 million.

And conservatives claim to love our country.

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Dodging the Robots

This is a typically twisted distortion of what aren’t even facts.

Leftists seem to think using percentages makes them look smart, even when they use skewed numbers, like All Out Communist does almost every day.

Your misuse of data assumes that every member of the population has had Covid. As of 12/15/21, the CDC puts that number at 50.2 million: By using total population you are claiming more than six times as many people have had it, and in turn, that six times as many will die from it.

It’s significant to note that the 98% survival rate was pre-Omicron. Now that rate will very likely be even higher, approaching 100%, since the nothing burger that OM is turning out to be generally results in nothing more than a very short-lived case of the Sweet and Sour Sniffles.

Many of those vaccinated don’t want to accept that they’ve been duped. This always has and always will be about $$, nothing more.

Hochul called the vaccine “a gift from God,” but no one seems to notice that her daughter-in-law a major Big Pharma player.

Wake up, people, unless you want to continue playing walk-on roles in a live remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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Jacob

Hey dummy, I am pointing out what would happen if everyone gets infected based on the 98% survival rate assertion posted here. Nowhere did i claim those are the numbers we have now.

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dan

Experts don’t have information about the outcome of every infection. However, early estimates predict that the overall COVID-19 recovery rate is between 97% and 99.75%. Just google it.

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Booster4

Israel is set to become the first country in the world to administer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine, which would give “greater protection in the face of Omicron.”

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Gardens Watcher

Israel is still studying the efficacy of a fourth dose and hasn’t finalized their decision, but is looking at giving a fourth dose — to those over 70 and some other at-risk groups — four months after their third shot. Waning immunity is an issue for everyone.

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Kyle

I don’t see the point in covid tests ‘just because’ since there are many false results. If you want to test if you’re sick go ahead.

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Joe

None of this stuff works. It’s never worked. NY has high/higher case numbers now that we did a year ago when there were no “vaccines”. Places with near 100% vaccine compliance and mask mandates (colleges, some countries abroad, a few US states) are all getting clobbered. Virus gonna virus. Be thankful that this latest variant is the least harmful one yet (and it wasn’t especially harmful to begin with unless you’re old and unhealthy) and people are mostly staying out of the hospital and not dying.

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Gardens Watcher

Vaccinated and boostered people are mostly staying out of the hospital and not dying. The Unvaccinated who catch Covid are the ones who end up in the hospital and in the morgue. So yeah, the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do. Not 100%, but no vaccine is 100%. We are just lucky the vaccines and boosters are still effective against Omicron. Who knows what the next variant will do?

The virus is going to find you if you’re unvaccinated. Get vaccinated and get boosted when you’re eligible. And mask-up. These steps do work.

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Explain.

Lets see some stats for death rates by flu from 2020. From Covid 2020. Flu in 2021 and Covid by 2021. Vaccines in all years leading up to 2020. And then vax related deaths from 2020 onwards. What happened to the flu in 2020 and 2021?

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Gardens Watcher

My doc told me there were very few flu cases in NYC in 2020 because most people were wearing masks. Flu cases are up this year for a few reasons: the current strain going around is not the one covered by this year’s vaccine, people are getting lax about wearing masks, and travel and tourists are back.

Go ahead and dig into the numbers on the internet.

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Debra

Tests aren’t reliable, there’s been numerous cases of false positives in the past month, from people with actual money that can afford 100 test in one day.

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