Long lines formed outside City MD locations Tuesday as eager New Yorkers took advantage of new walk-in COVID-19 nasal swab and antibody tests.
The New-York based healthcare company announced Monday that it will be able to conduct a nasal swab molecular test on patients who currently have coronavirus symptoms and provide an antibody test on those who had symptoms but have since recovered.
The announcement came after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed that an average of 31 percent of New York City residents tested for coronavirus over the last 14 days have received positive results.
Waits of up to three hours were reported Tuesday across City MD locations as some social media users voiced concerned that the crowds were making social distancing difficult.
Social media users warned that they were not able to social distance in the waiting rooms
Long lines formed outside of CityMD locations across New York City as eager city residents waited for an antibody test to see if they had had coronavirus or not. The company announced Tuesday it was opening up walk-in antibody testing from Tuesday onward
City MD, which has more than 120 urgent cares centers in New York, New Jersey and Washington state, revealed the increased testing in a press release Monday before rolling out the new antibody testing on Tuesday.
The COVID-19 swab test is available to those experiencing active symptoms such as a fever and persistent cough. It is also available to healthcare workers, first responders and people who believe they have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
It will take three to five days for results to be delivered and patients are warned to self-quarantine during this period.
The company is also offering antibody testing ‘with high accuracy’, it said in its press release, to see if a patient had previously contracted coronavirus.
These test results will also be delivered within three to five days and is available to people who previously had COVID-19 symptoms; those who received a positive test result for COVID-19 and have now recovered after 14 days; and people who believe they have come into contact with somebody who had the virus.
The nasal swab test is available to those who are insured. Those who are uninsured or self-pay will be charged for the cost of the CityMD visit as well as lab fees.
The antibody test is said to be covered by most insurance companies but costs $55 for the City MD’s lab partner if not.
CityMD’s announcement for open antibody testing was welcomed on social media
People who went to a CityMD to take a walk-in test posted about it and praised staff
Many showed long lines forming in front of the CityMD locations for testing
The news was welcomed on social media where several users posted their experience of waiting through long lines on the first day of testing Tuesday.
‘Just got an email from CityMD saying they can now offer covid tests to anyone that needs one and i just got emotional,’ Twitter account Astrology by Mecca wrote.
Twitter user Lindsay Moore said that there was a two-hour wait outside the CityMD they went to.
Another commended the ‘super helpful and friendly staff’ after waiting for an hour for an antibody test at CityMD in Park Slope in Brooklyn.
‘Took about an hour from the time I got in line (around 3 pm). Staff was super helpful and friendly,’ Marc Torrence, a reporter with Patch, posted.
People heading to Brooklyn locations were all faced with a wait.
‘Waiting to take an antibody test at a CityMD in Brooklyn. The length of the line indicates quite a lot of demand for this,’ wrote Sarah Goodyear.
Some were concerned about the effects that the lines for coronavirus testing would have
Some called for appointments to be scheduled to avoid long lines and to promote safer social distancing in the CityMD locations that are offering coronavirus and antibody testing
The long lines caused concern for some who were worried that the rush to be tested meant people were not following social distancing guidelines as some called for appointments to be arranged at the clinics that generally function as walk-in only.
‘Don’t talk to me about opening back up. @CityMD announced last night that #COVID19 testing was now available at it’s locations. Today I saw a line around the block at the 2 locations I passed. The curve may be flattening but it is NOT flat. #StayHome we aren’t there yet!’ Meghan Lapides warned.
Another social media user who went to get a test showed the scenes from inside the center where he said that social distancing wasn’t an option in the crowded waiting room.
‘At @CityMD in line for an antibody test. front desk says testing will be at doctor’s discretion. social distancing is not an option in the waiting room. waiting 55 minutes so far,’ Rusty Zimmerman posted to Twitter.
‘Admitted for my vitals to be taken, 1hr in crowded waiting room. 20min. later technician came in and took vitals. 85 minutes total, and counting… meanwhile, @CityMD maybe do like @wegmans put some tape on the ground 6′ apart down the block out front?’ they added.
Staff were praised, however, and described as ‘awesome’: ‘Total time, 1 hour 55 minute. bought fruit for staff to say thank you.’
This Twitter user posted about the long wait times and lack of social distancing
This Twitter user suggested Tuesday that tape needed to be introduced in the CityMD waiting rooms to ensure that New Yorkers crowding in for a test were not too close to each other
People who went to CityMD for a test Tuesday posted about their long wait times
Those who posted about the testing commended the staff and said they hoped they’d be able to donate plasma after taking the antibody test which would show if they had had the virus
‘The entire staff of @CityMD was very calm and reassuring,’ said another Twitter user.
‘They wore masks, but not gloves. Lots of hand sanitizer available, and some of them were wearing two masks. They said so far no one on staff has gotten sick.’
Those eager to get tested felt it was ‘important’ to do so.
‘Since I do backup childcare for my grandkids (who haven’t been to school/daycare for 7 weeks) it seems important. There was a short line when I arrived,’ Yvonne Caruthers, who went to an unidentified CityMD location, tweeted.
‘Good physicial distancing inside. I checked in at a kiosk (sign said “please use wipes between checkins” but there were no more wipes).
‘When the lab tech came to take my blood, she told me they got very little notice that they would be doing antibody tests, so they haven’t had time to adjust.’
Staff were described as ‘super helpful and friendly’ as patients waited for hours
New Yorkers who went for a test said they felt it was ‘important’ to do so
While some complained about social distancing, others commended the conditions
Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday revealed his 12-step plan to reopening state which includes keeping hospital capacity beneath 70 percent and seeing solid two-week declines in coronavirus cases in the areas he will restart, but said it would take a ‘miracle’ for New York City to reach the requirements in the next few weeks.
Cuomo’s lockdown officially ends on May 15 but he said on Monday he would extend it for some regions of the state where the data suggests there is still a problem.
The first step of the plan is to ensure that the region being reopened has seen declining coronavirus cases for 14 days.
New York City is a long way front that benchmark.
There were 335 deaths across the state on Monday which brings the total to 17,638.
There were another 3,110 cases, which brings the total number of positive COVID-19 infections to 295,106.
Cuomo is adopting the White House’s recommendation that for every 1,000 people, 30 coronavirus tests are required. The state is currently carrying out some 20,000 diagnostic tests every day but he previously said he hoped to increase that number to 40,000 a day.
What will be crucial, he said, is ensuring the tests are easily accessible and are well advertised.
Symptomatic people and front line workers will be prioritized, he said.
‘We have to have the testing regiment in place and prioritize symptomatic people and front line and essential workers.
‘They do have a higher rate of infection because they’re putting themselves in harm’s way so we want to make sure we have the testing.
‘Do we have the right number of sites? Testing won’t work if it’s too hard to get. The advertising is very important. It has to be available but people need to know it’s available. They have to know what the symptoms are.
‘This is about people understanding it and buying into it. This is not government orders. People get it. They know the facts and they do it because we have communicated successfully the circumstance and the facts.
‘You need that testing and need it to trace the contacts otherwise you see that infection rate increase,’ he said.
Last week, Cuomo announced that Mike Bloomberg was launching a tracing program that would work to identify everyone who every infected person in New York has come into contact with to try to weed out other as yet undetected cases.
The recruiting effort for that program is underway. People with experience in healthcare are being asked to apply for jobs which Mayor Bill de Blasio said will pay between $50,000 and $65,000.
Throughout the reopening plan, healthcare workers and other essential workers who Cuomo said had risked their own lives out of a sense of pride and duty to serve the public, would be put first.
They include not only doctors and nurses but transit workers and grocery store workers, cops and firefighters, all of whom have not stayed home.
He said it had been one of his biggest fears at the onslaught of the pandemic that they would refuse to show up to do their jobs but that they all had.
They will get first access to testing and will be protected with the equipment they need to do their jobs, he said.