By Cory James

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The timing of this rapid rise of COVID cases in New York is concerning with holiday gatherings and travel just days away.

Thousands in the city want to get tested, and they’re waiting in long lines to do it.

READ MORE: Health Officials Tracking New 'Stealth' Omicron Variant Spreading In Europe, Detected In U.S.

Forty minutes after an Upper West Side COVID-19 pop-up testing site was scheduled to close, people were still standing in line.

It was a similar story in Harlem for Dustin Leclerc. The Hamilton Heights resident says he waited 55 minutes to get swabbed after struggling to book an appointment at drug stores and other locations.

“I looked online to find appointments and they’re actually kind of hard to see,” he told CBS2’s Cory James.

FIND TESTING SITES: Click here for New York City’s testing site locator, including mobile sites and at-home appointments

AVOID THE LINES: Click here for NYC Health+Hospitals testing wait times

In a letter, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to reopen mass testing sites at Jones Beach and Stony Brook University on Long Island.

This comes after the seven-day positivity rate grew past 7%, the highest it’s been since January.

Rice added mobile sites are also needed in communities of color.

COVID VACCINE

READ MORE: Just Days After Testing Positive For COVID, Sarah Palin Spotted Dining At Manhattan Restaurant

“It’s kind of scary right now,” said Adam Mamawala, who recorded video of another long testing line in the city. “There had to be 100 people, easily.”

He hopes other approaches will be considered, too.

“Either more testing sites or some sort of infrastructure like they seem to have in Europe, where people are being sent tests that they can administer to themselves on a more regular basis,” he said.

But Ashley Allen, who just tested positive for the second time this year, says she recently took three rapid tests that were false negatives.

“Even the doctor’s rapid tests told me that I was fine,” she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently addressed that, specifically when it comes to the Omicron variant.

“We are in the process of doing large screening to determine which of these antigen point-of-care rapid tests still maintain their accuracy of diagnosis,” he said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

As we enter the final week before Christmas, experts say testing is just one of keys to keeping holiday gatherings safe.

“A few people is less risky than a ton of people,” said Dr. Dan Varga, chief physician executive at Hackensack Meridian Health. “Being with vaccinated people is a lot less risky than being with unvaccinated people.”

MORE NEWS: New York Workers' Compensation Board Offers Resources For COVID Long Haulers

These are decisions to consider ahead of the holidays.

Cory James