Over 280,000 Brooklynites got tested for COVID in 7 days

People wait online at Kings County Hospital to get a COVID-19 test on Monday, Dec. 20.
Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Over 280,000 Brooklynites braved hours-long lines to get a COVID-19 test in the seven-day period between Dec. 12 and Dec. 18, according to state data, with around six percent of those test recording positive results — marking a testament to the growing  impact of the new Omicron variant that has led to a sudden, massive increase in caseloads just before many plan (or planned) to see their families for the holidays.

Data shows that 280,799 Brooklynites got tested in that seven-day period, including 45,379 on Saturday, when the latest is available. Just under 3,900 people tested positive that day.

Unfortunately for the COVID-cautious, lines for tests have not abated since Saturday, as a dashboard showing wait times at sites run by NYC Health & Hospitals, the city’s public hospital network, show that, at a minimum, Brooklynites should expect to wait on line for at least 30 minutes, and likely longer.

The worst lines are at the sites in Starrett City and at Woodhull Hospital, both of which sport lines that one can expect to wait on for at least two hours.

Lines are similarly mammoth at dozens of mobile testing sites affiliated with the city, which were intended to replace 20 brick-and-mortar sites that the city closed last month as it hoped to shift its COVID strategy. That came before Omicron made its way to Brooklyn’s shores.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has less than two weeks left in his term before being replaced by Borough President Eric Adams, said last week that the city would open dozens of new testing sites to handle the Omicron surge, which is expected to last for several weeks but — based on data from South Africa, where it was first detected, may not cause as much physical harm as previous variants despite being vastly more transmissible (though the jury is still out on that).

Hizzoner said Monday that there are currently 89 city-run testing sites, including standing and mobile sites, and that 23 more are expected to come online this week, three mobile and twenty brick-and-mortar.

Ted Long, Executive Director of Test & Trace Corps, H&H’s testing and contact tracing arm, says that PCR tests at H&H sites are seeing turnaround times of about 24-36 hours, which he claims is the fastest in the city, though the volume of tests being processed could mean some results take longer to get to the patient.

Meanwhile, CityMD, which has 20 locations in Brooklyn, has brought its “virtual line” back from the dead, allowing test-seekers to stake a spot online and wait until their appointment is called, as a crush of New Yorkers rush for tests.

Brooklyn’s transmission rate is now the second-highest of the five boroughs, with 616 new cases per 100,000 residents according to city data. That’s above the citywide average of 608 per 100,000, but remains well below the nearly 950 per 100,000 currently seen in Manhattan.