Hour-long lines of eager New Yorkers awaiting coronavirus tests have once again populated the landscape of the city as infections rise and concerns of spread linger through each borough. Despite this demand, CityMD on Friday announced a dramatic change in hours.
All CityMD locations will close 90 minutes earlier starting Monday, Nov. 16, the company announced in a statement, citing a months-long strain on medical staff and doctors.
"Our goal is to treat every person who needs care. Period. But unfortunately, we can’t stay open past our normal hours on a daily basis," the statement read. "Our site staff and doctors have been seeing patients well beyond normal closing time for months now and we’ve reached the point where they are sacrificing their own safety and health."
New Yorkers, especially, have leaned on the private urgent care centers since the the spring to access diagnostic testing. The statement issued Friday says the all the chains locations will have adjusted hours -- according to the website, there are 137 locations.
The company will try to attend to anyone in line by the time of a location's closing, but said in extreme cases staff may need to cut the line off earlier.
For days now New Yorkers have noticed the lines return to volumes not seen since the spring and early summer when free testing opened up to all people, regardless of whether they had symptoms or had been exposed to cases. (Find your nearest testing location here.)
As of Friday, New York City's rolling positivity rate was 2.83 percent, up nearly 9 percent from the previous day and on pace to hit the shutdown threshold at any point. It has ticked up every single day this week, mirroring the daily increase in cases since late October.
"We want to get tested but how can you get tested when you have to wait three hours and you have to wait seven days [for results]?" Edwin Nunez of Manhattan asks.
The city has noticed the increase in demand too, updating it's website to say: "Due to an increase in demand, there may be longer than usual wait times for testing and results in certain areas." There are two at-home testing kits the city links to on its website that promise results "within days."
The recent uptick in testing popularity appears to have prompted one New Yorker to create a Twitter account to follow the waits at a CityMD location in Brooklyn.
The first tweets came out on Wednesday, tracking the number of people waiting in line at the Boerum Hill location and sharing approximate wait times.
Testing demand is expected to get worse in the weeks ahead as the holidays approach and more people travel. COVID testing by appointment is another alternative to walk-ins.