New York City is once again making free home COVID-19 tests in all five boroughs on Friday as thousands of people queuing for hours scramble for faster options over a Christmas holiday weekend in the middle of an astronomical peak of cases
Five distribution points began distributing free Binax home tests at 9 a.m. Each site only has about 2,000 kits to distribute, so stocks should run out quickly. This will likely only reduce what has been a massive surge in demand for testing that has left labs struggling to keep up and forced some vendors to shut down.
Pharmacies posted signs saying tests were sold out. Lines wrapped around blocks at some testing sites, with some saying results could take three to four days. For the next day’s results, one site quoted a price of $ 150. For results in two hours, the price was $ 389.
Many walk-in sites will close early on Friday for Christmas Eve and will not be open at all on Christmas Day, so an intense rush is expected early.
The locations of the Friday distribution sites are:
- Bronx: Bryan Park, corner of East Fordham Road and East Kingsbridge Road
- Brooklyn: Flatbush, corner of Church Avenue and Flatbush Avenue
- Manhattan: Corner of West 125th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard
- Queens: Woodhaven, Jamaica Avenue and 92nd Street
- Staten Island: Staten Island Ferry, 1 Bay Street
COVID cases skyrocket in New York City, especially Manhattan
The moving average of COVID cases in New York is up almost 139% from the averages for the previous four weeks, according to the latest data. On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced more than 12,900 new cases, a 12% jump from the previous day and a 17% increase from Wednesday’s figures that the Democrat called “narcotics”.
De Blasio also added 259 additional hospitalizations to the tally, up 31% from the previous day. These rates, although on the rise recently, have been manageable and less shocking than the skyrocketing number of cases. Overall, sliding hospitalizations were up 20% in the last seven-day period compared to the average for the previous four weeks.
Authorities have said the vast majority of these more serious cases are from people who aren’t vaccinated and are urging all New Yorkers to get dosed and boosted. The increase in the number of cases is expected to be short-lived, perhaps a few weeks, said de Blasio and his top health experts. And while the omicron-related cases are considered milder than those related to previous COVID strains, especially the Delta, the sheer rates of spread have stunned officials and rocked the city weary of the pandemic.
About 1.7% of all Manhattan residents were infected in the past week alone, according to the latest data released by the city on Thursday. It’s just an average – in some neighborhoods the numbers are astronomically higher. In Greenwich Village and SoHo, it’s 2,927 cases per 100,000; in Chelsea, 2,513 per 100,000.
At these rates, Greenwich Village would eclipse just about any location with the current outbreak, anywhere. According to New York Times data, Washington DC, where the omicron rages like wildfire, counts “only” up to 158 cases per 100,000.
The spikes forced de Blasio to change his plans for Times Square on New Years Eve, reducing the crowds nearly four times to a limit of around 15,000. Everyone must be fully immunized to attend and everyone must wear masks. There are a few exceptions, but they are quite limited. Learn more about the plans here.
A number of Broadway blockbusters, including âHamiltonâ and âThe Lion Kingâ have canceled performances at least until Christmas due to groundbreaking COVID infections within businesses.
Many of these cases are believed to be from omicron, which is believed to account for more than 90% of current COVID cases in the New York City area, according to the CDC.
In the United States, infections average about 149,000 per day, up from 75,000 per day in early November.
“The increase in infections is quite dramatic,” said Gigi Gronvall, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who has been following COVID-19 testing efforts during the pandemic.
Testing can help keep gatherings safe, even if people have no symptoms and have not been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Take a test before you get together,” agency director Dr Rochelle Walensky said this week as omicron led to an increase in cases before the holidays.
As COVID-19 cases rise fueled by the highly contagious variant of omicron, families across the country are reconsidering their plans for the vacation. LX News Now host Eric Alvarez asks Harvard Medical School’s Dr Aditi Nerurkar the question everyone is on everyone’s mind: Should I cancel my Christmas and New Years plans?