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NEW YORK — A blitz of home COVID tests, new federal testing sites opening and increased city testing sites were all part of an effort to shorten long lines for testing across the city on Thursday.

However, as a doctor who handles a variety of COVID cases pointed out, the big rise in testing comes with its own additional risks.

“I feel like right now the system is overwhelmed,” said Dr. Dyan Hes, the medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics in Manhattan. “We just actually got a call from one of the major labs that they got, they are so overwhelmed. They wanted us to send a list of how many PCRs we sent yesterday. So that’s how disorganized it is.”

Dr. Hes said that part of the problem, which she’s seen firsthand, is that people who have Covid symptoms try to get tested to prove they don’t have the virus, so that they can still see loved ones for
the holiday, even though they’re not feeling well.

“They’re like, ‘ We’re trying to keep track of all of [the tests sent in],'” she continued. “So I think the system is just getting crushed because people want to be tested before Christmas.”

New York City is currently having about 11,000 new cases per day, so many people are seeking a test.  

Instead of trying to get tested before the weekend holiday, she advised this: “Don’t put other people at risk. Just stay home.”

Anyone who legitimately needs a test can find one at the city’s website here.

Also, many of the city’s testing centers report how long wait times are. That tool is here, and gets updated every two hours.

On Thursday, the city’s Test and Trace Corps gave out 10,000 home Covid test kits, for free — 2,000 in each of the five boroughs. The supply didn’t last long. In less than an hour, the tests were depleted at the sites in Queens and Brooklyn. 

Also, on Thursday, three federal testing sites were fully online, all in Queens, at Travers Park, in Jackson Heights; Queens Valley Playground, in Flushing; and Helen Marshall Playground in East Elmhurst. The three sites will be joined by three more mobile federal testing centers next week.  Also next week, on Monday, the MTA will open testing centers at Grand Central Terminal and Times Square Station.