New York City is adding more testing capacity to meet demand and hospitals are tightening restrictions on visits as Omicron continues to spread, officials said on Wednesday, officials said. transmit at a fast rate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is adding seven more city-run Covid-19 testing sites – bringing the total to 119 city-run sites – and adding five more with the goal of the sole purpose of handing out home testing kits starting Thursday.
This comes as the heads of NYC’s 11 public hospitals said they were restricting visitors after an “outbreak” they believe is visitor-related.
Mr. de Blasio said the 119 test sites include fixed locations and mobile distribution around five counties.
At test sites run by the city, de Blasio says, “Thankfully, a lot of them don’t have big lines and are great at getting you quick turnaround times.”
These locations are in addition to partner and private sites. The aim is to minimize lines, he said.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer said he is sending a letter to FEMA requesting 100 more Covid-19 mobile testing sites for New York.
Medical + Hospitals CEO Mitch Katz acknowledged “some challenges in meeting demand,” regarding testing.
“Today, we are extending business hours across all medical sites and hospitals from 7am to 7pm,” he said.
This was made possible by virtualizing emergency care visits so that nurses and staff from the clinics could be present at the testing sites, he said.
Katz also said it has acquired a significant number of test kits to distribute to people who are comfortable testing at home.
In the interim, the city’s 11 public hospitals will also “tighten their restrictions on visitors,” Katz said.
“We had a recent outbreak at one of our hospitals which we think is related to travelers, it’s not their fault of course, there’s a lot of transmission going on in the area. NYC is now due to Omicron, and so for a short while, while we get Katz said.
Certain exceptions will be made, he said, including women in labor who can bring someone with them.
He also noted that for end-of-life hospice cases and in the case of sick children, the family would be allowed.
“To make sure we don’t cause further illness, we need to limit the number of visitors,” says Katz.