New York City is adding additional testing capacity to grapple with the demand, and hospitals are tightening restrictions on visitation as Omicron continues to spread at a rapid pace, officials said Wednesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is adding seven additional city-run Covid-19 testing sites — bringing the total up to 119 city-run locations — and adding an additional five sites for the sole purpose of handing out at-home tests kits beginning Thursday.
This comes as the head of NYC’s 11 public hospitals says they are restricting visitors following an “outbreak” that they believe is connected to a visitor.
The 119 testing sites include fixed sites and mobile distribution all around the five boroughs, de Blasio said.
At the city-run testing locations, de Blasio says “lot of them do not have big lines thankfully and are very good at getting you a quick turnaround time.”
These locations are in addition to partner and private sites. The goal is to minimize lines, he said.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer said he’s sending a letter to FEMA requesting 100 more Covid-19 mobile testing sites for New York.
CEO of Health + Hospitals Mitch Katz acknowledged “some challenges in meeting the demand,” with regards to testing.
“Today we are expanding hours on all our health and hospitals sites from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” he said.
This has been made possible by going virtual for ambulatory care visits so that nurses and staff from clinics can be available in testing areas, he said.
Katz also said they have acquired a significant number of testing kits to distribute to those who feel comfortable testing at home.
For a temporary period, the city’s 11 public hospitals will also “be tighter about restricting visitors,” Katz said.
“We’ve had a recent outbreak in one of our hospitals that we think is related to visitors, not of course their fault, theres so much transmission going on in NYC now because of Omicron, and so for a short while, while we get the situation under control, we’re going to have limited visitation,” Katz said.
Certain exceptions will be made, he said, including for women in labor who will be able to bring someone with them.
He also noted for end of life hospice situations and in the case of sick children, family will be permitted.
“In order to make sure we don’t cause more disease we need to limit the number of visitors,” Katz said.