This story was reported by John Asbury, Matt Clark, Lisa L. Colangelo, Keldy ortiz and Craig Schneider. It is written by Schneider.
The fight to repel the COVID-19 rise intensified on Wednesday as New York reached new heights in cases, hospital admissions on Long Island rose by the largest total number of single days since the pandemic began, and Gov. Kathy Hochul said she expects virus rates to grow to January.
State and Long Island officials are fighting the rapidly spreading virus on several fronts, including opening additional test sites in Nassau and Suffolk and making test kits more accessible, with events like a distribution at Mitchel Field in Uniondale scheduled for Thursday.
But the challenges continue. CityMD announced the temporary closure of two more test sites on Long Island. People continue to stand in line for hours to be tested. The extremely contagious omicron variant is still spreading, the cold weather is not disappearing, and the New Year promises to bring more people together and more spread of the virus.
“We are basically preparing for an increase in January. We know it is coming and it would be naive to think it will not,” Hochul said during a news briefing in Plattsburgh state on Wednesday. “We think there will be an increase in cases that continue.”
New York saw a new one-day pandemic high of positive cases Tuesday, officials said. The state had 67,090 new cases, a single-day jump of 26,310 cases from the day before, according to state figures.
Tuesday’s total number exceeds by 17,382 cases the previous one-day high of 49,708, which was set last Friday.
More than 10,000 of those new cases on Tuesday were on Long Island.
What to know
- In test results reported Tuesday, New York reached new heights in cases, and hospitalizations on Long Island increased by the largest total number of days since the pandemic began.
- Officials are battling the virus through additional test sites in Nassau and Suffolk, and events such as a distribution of test kits at Mitchel Field in Uniondale are scheduled for Thursday.
- Citing staff concerns, CityMD acute care chain temporarily closed locations in Mineola and Patchogue after closing locations in Merrick and the Bay Shore last week.
Nassau and Suffolk both saw significant increases. Nassau had 5,968 new cases Tuesday, up from 3,523 the day before. The Tuesday figure came from 31,373 total tests, to a daily positivity of 19%.
And Suffolk had 4,577 cases, a significant increase from 2,811 the day before, state figures said. Out of 19,529 total tests, this corresponded to a daily positivity of 23.4%.
The seven-day positivity reached 17.32% on Long Island.
New efforts to distribute tests
Meanwhile, officials from Nassau and Suffolk on Wednesday unveiled further efforts to help people receive tests for COVID-19.
Nassau County will distribute 20,000 COVID-19 home test kits via a drive-thru event Thursday, and Suffolk County opened a new county-run test site.
The Nassau event takes place at Mitchel Field in Uniondale from 6 p.m. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sets were supplied by the State of New York. Nassau County residents will receive up to three sets per day. car on a first-come, first-served basis, free of charge.
“As omicron continues to spread in our community and residents continue to see their loved ones for the holidays, the county remains committed to providing reliable COVID-19 testing to residents so we can limit disease spread,” he said. Laura Curran, head of Nassau County, in a statement.
Suffolk County officials said tests began to be available on a first-come, first-served basis Wednesday at Heckscher State Park’s Field 8 in East Islip.
The site will be open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., handling about 1,000 tests a day, the county said.
The new test site opened on Wednesday for a large number of cars. County officials said drive-thru rapid tests reached capacity at 1 p.m. 9, forcing them to close the line. They noted that many of the cars had multiple passengers and more than 1,000 people were tested during the day.
“Unfortunately, these long lines are felt at test sites across the county as a record number of individuals seek testing,” a Suffolk County spokesman said.
Also, two previously announced state-run test sites opened Wednesday at IBEW Local 25 in Hauppauge and Kennedy Memorial Park in Hempstead. Times can be agreed at appointments.bioreference.com/nystatecovidtesting, not by calling the locations.
COVID-19 hospital admissions across the country rose Tuesday to 6,767 patients, a growth of 594 patients after another large increase Monday with 647 patients, according to state data.
On Long Island, admissions rose by 105 patients on Tuesday to 1,106 after another large increase in 102 patients on Monday.
The nationwide increase on Tuesday of 594 patients is the largest single-day jump in hospital admissions since April 6, 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, with the exception of Monday’s 647 patients.
Long Island’s increase in admissions on Tuesday is the largest since April 6, 2020, when there were 656 new patients across the country and 128 on Long Island.
In addition, 97 people across the country died of coronavirus-related disease on Tuesday, an increase of 20 over the day leading up to a total of 77 according to state figures. Three of those deaths were in Nassau and five in Suffolk, figures said.
The new total number of state deaths represents the largest number since March 28, 2021, when 111 deaths were reported.
Long waits in long queues
Some islanders endured long waits on long queues on Wednesday to be tested.
More than 50 people were lined up around the building at Kennedy Memorial Park in Hempstead.
By noon, the site had already performed nearly 250 PCR tests inside the gym in the town hall, and officials expected to conduct a total of 800 tests Wednesday night.
Marie Emile from Hempstead waited in line for about three hours Wednesday morning to be tested with her 4-year-old son Matthew. She said a family member was tested positive and she wanted to make sure she was healthy.
“We’re glad it opened up, but it’s a long wait in line,” she said. “It’s a consolation I can be tested so I know my status.”
Dana Murphy, 35, of Freeport, wore a mask and said he started coughing and showing other symptoms Tuesday night. He said he was concerned that family members may have been infected at Christmas.
“I came down to be tested and see if anything more than a cold was happening,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not COVID and I do not want to spread it among anyone else.”
Two more LI CityMD locations close by
Elsewhere, the CityMD emergency chain temporarily closes locations in Mineola and Patchogue, citing the need to “maintain our ability to staff our sites” amid the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, said the company on Tuesday on its website.
The two CityMD locations are among 12 additional locations closing temporarily in the metropolitan area after 19 other closures were announced by the chain last week.
People hoping to get services at the Mineola site at 292 Herricks Rd. is redirected to CityMD Carle Place at 235 Glen Cove Rd.
Those looking for the Patchogue site at 129 Sunrise Hwy. is directed to CityMD Sayville at 5600 Sunrise Hwy.
Last week, CityMD closed locations in Merrick and the Bay Shore because they were flooded with people asking for COVID-19 tests and lacking staff to keep up, the company said.
“We do not have a timeframe for reopens that I can share at this time,” Joy Lee-Calio, director of public relations and communications for Summit Health, which owns CityMD, wrote in an email Wednesday.
As the cold weather and holidays have led to an increase in COVID-19 positivity and test demand, Nassau has also partnered with Northwell Health to offer COVID-19 PCR testing at Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn.
The Drive-thru COVID-19 test site is available to all residents free of charge Monday through Friday from 7 p.m. northwell.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/pcr-testing.
A new drive-thru site also opened across from Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead on Tuesday.
The rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are self-administered by people in their cars and returned to the health authorities, who can usually process a result the next day using Northwell’s Lab Gold testing software.
Red Creek Park in the Hampton Bays will only offer school-required and community tests on Mondays, starting next week, from 6 p.m. 10am to 6pm and with a capacity of 500 tests per day.
In addition, a location at Cathedral Pines County Park in Middle Island will offer tests on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. 8 to 16. This site opens on January 4th and can manage up to 500 tests a day.
Northwell Health officials said it administers an average of 20,000 COVID-19 tests a day at its facilities, including locations, hospitals, doctors’ offices and acute care centers.
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