NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio promised Monday that, within 24 hours, the number of COVID-19 testing sites operated by — or in conjunction wit — the city government would be significantly increased.
That happened on Tuesday, but the expansion wasn’t without its problems.
At a new, city-operated mobile testing site at The New School, in Greenwich Village, people who’d been waiting in line since 7 a.m. were told, when the site opened at 9 a.m., that they could not yet get tested.
One woman who’d waited on the block-long line explained what people in the long line had experienced.
“Eventually, the nurses came out of the truck and let us know they didn’t have any tests,” she said. “That’s what they’re waiting on, unfortunately.”
A city spokesperson said that eventually, some home testing kits were given out to some people waiting in line, and testing supplies to use on everyone else arrived at around 10:30 a.m.
The mayor and his senior medical team also said that, in the weeks and months ahead, the city intends to hand out home tests to anyone who asks, at city-operated testing sites. For now, though, the challenges with that are apparent, as Mayor de Blasio himself pointed out.
“We just haven’t had that supply,” he said during his COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday. “We’ve tried to get it from the private market, we’ve tried to get it from government. It just hasn’t been here yet.”
Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, summed up the situation succinctly.
“As soon as the tests arrive in New York City, we’ll be able to get them rapidly disseminated,” he said.
The federal government has committed to providing 500 million home tests, including for New York City residents, but the protocol for manufacturing and procuring them has not been finalized.
Meanwhile, the city does provide a variety of tools for finding COVID test sites in the area.
The main one is its testing site website, which includes a tool that connects to a map of testing sites. No mobile sites are listed, because they’re mobile, according to the city.
Following Health and Hospitals on Twitter, however, can yield valuable information about testing site locations, particularly for mobile sites.
Also, by texting “COVID test” to 85548, personalized testing recommendations are sent straight to smartphones.