As outlined in President Joe Biden’s address to the nation last week, more federally run testing sites were promised across the country, including New York City.
The first Center for Disease Control (CDC) testing site in the city opened in Jackson Heights at Travers Park on Wednesday, a day after the president told the country to be “concerned about Omicron, but not panicked.”
The arrival of more testing sites comes on the heels of elected officials in western Queens calling for more to be done to address the long waits at testing sites in those neighborhoods.
Less than a day later, it was announced a new testing site would open at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria.
The testing site will be open December 24, then December 26 through 31, opening at 8:30 a.m. It will offer PCR testing and results will be provided within 48 hours.
“While I continue pushing for a stronger program of permanent test sites as soon as possible, I am glad my colleagues and I were able to secure this new location,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.
Efforts to bring testing sites to Forest Hills and Flushing were also spearheaded by Congresswoman Grace Meng, as test sites opened up on December 23 at Flushing Town Hall and Our Lady of Martyrs Catholic Academy.
With cases on the rise, the city began distributing free COVID-19 self-tests throughout the five boroughs began on the morning of December 23.
In Queens, a distribution site at the corner of 37th Avenue and Junction Boulevard in Corona had 2,000 free tests.
Yesenia Paredes of Jackson Heights found herself waiting in line to receive a free BinaxNow COVID-19 antigen self-test. The distribution started roughly 30 minutes earlier than expected in an effort to shorten the already long line.
“I’m fully vaccinated, but I want to be tested,” said Paredes, a mother of two. “There’s cases rising. I’ve been working in the medical field for one year and have been around people that have tested positive. Thank god I haven’t ever tested positive.”
Waiting 15 minutes in line to receive her own free self-test, and then another 10 minutes with her father, Paredes said the city should be careful with the uptick in cases, especially in schools.
“The city should be doing more,” Paredes said, referencing her child’s exposure to the virus in a nearby public school. “What are they doing with the school still open with nine positive cases?”
John Thomas made his way from Brooklyn to wait in line at the Corona distribution site, hoping to receive a free self test before the holidays.
“It’s extremely important,” said Thomas. “I want to make sure I'm taking care of myself and others. I think what we’re doing as far as giving out the tests is one way, but also encouraging people to take the right precautions.”