New York City

Testing Lines Have Grown Longer in NYC. Here's How to Check Wait Times Before You Go

NBC Universal, Inc.

Lines wrapping around the block are once again a regular backdrop of New York City. The rush on testing comes as the share of people testing positive in the city has doubled in three days this week.

With a COVID-19 surge facing the city with just one week before another major winter holiday, the familiar sight of lengthy testing lines has returned.

Between rapid and PCR tests, on top of the ongoing effort to vaccinate and boost, New Yorkers are back outside, some waiting for hours, to take the necessary precautions against the surge of delta and omicron cases.

To help the wave of New Yorkers heading to get tested, the city has a dashboard with estimated wait times for dozens of locations across the five boroughs.

Check wait times for NYC Health + Hospitals COVID-19 testing locations here.

A day ago, the mayor's top health adviser, Dr. Jay Varma, tweeted, "Um, we've never seen this before in #NYC" regarding COVID positivity rates. The share of people testing positive doubled in three days this week, and Varma said it was an indication of omicron evading immunity in a way no other variant had before.

The city's rolling daily case average is up almost 57% over the rolling averages for the previous four weeks and COVID hospitalizations are up nearly 31%. Delta is the variant believed to be fueling the spike in more severe cases, while omicron is thought to be behind the surge in infections. Both are called "variants of concern."

The latter accounts for only 1% of tested COVID samples in New York City currently, though its prevalence is likely far higher. Delta remains dominant (97%), but experts expect omicron to overtake it as the dominant U.S. strain in a matter of weeks.

The city does not report how many of the new cases are breakthrough infections. They are still believed to be a very small fraction of new COVID cases, and a minute fraction of new hospitalizations, but both of those fractions have been steadily rising since the emergence of omicron in November, state data shows.

The 2nd holiday season of the coronavirus pandemic is here. Whether you plan to gather with family or not, you should get a booster shot to help protect you against the virus, especially with the Omicron variant surging. And you should be cautious about big gatherings with lots of singing - that's more likely to spread an infection, says Dr. Bob Lahita of St. Joseph's Health in Paterson, NJ.
Copyright NBC New York
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