By Lisa Rozner

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — State and local leaders are deploying more resources to get a handle on the exploding need for COVID tests, and a quicker turnaround for results.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday the ordering of 26 million more free at-home tests and that COVID testing will be available at two subway stations starting Monday, and will expand to five more next week.

READ MORE: New York State Supreme Court Strikes Down Gov. Kathy Hochul's Mask Mandate

Sen. Chuck Schumer secured six more federally funded testing sites in Queens that opened Wednesday and will also on Thursday.

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

As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported, lines continued to form at private testing locations, but the waiting didn’t end there. One testing site in Hell’s Kitchen was telling people it could take up to two days to get results. Others were saying it could take up to seven days before they get back their PCR test.

“I took a PCR test with guaranteed results supposedly in 24 hours. It took five days to get those results, which at this point are meaningless,” Shaun Vakil told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.

Due to staffing concerns, CityMD on Wednesday temporarily closed almost two dozen locations, saying it had been unable to handle the extraordinary demand. It told customers it’s taking five to seven days on average to return results for a COVID-19 PCR swab due to an increase in national laboratory testing.

A LabQ tent outside Lincoln Center warned people it could take up to 96 hours — four days — to get a test result.


“I’m going to be with my mom for the holidays, so I want to make sure I’m OK,” said Harlem resident Giacomo Bonacasa.

“So if you don’t have it by Christmas what are you going to do?” Rozner asked.

“I will be spending it alone,” he said.

READ MORE: Standoff In Nassau Between County Executive Blakeman And Gov. Hochul Over Masks In Schools Continues

The director of mobile testing said the number of tests going through its Brooklyn lab have quadrupled — from 10,000 per day to 50,000 per day. Extra staff has been hired, and every single seat, including conference rooms, is filled with an employee working around the clock.

An increase in positive results is complicating matters.

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

“The protocol is to double verify a positive, so those have to be re-run, and because of that it’s also slowing down the lab,” said Jacob Weiss, director of mobile testing at LabQ.

There are 119 city-run testing sites across all five boroughs.

“Today we are expanding hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all Health + Hospital sites,” said New York City Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz.

Officials say PCR results from the city lab should come back in up to 48 hours, but admit there has been some challenges.

“We’re doing nearly 170,000 tests in one day. Our previous record gains had been 120,000 tests in one day. And over the last several days, we have noticed, because we track very closely the wait times, that the wait times have been getting longer for the turnaround at our city-run lab. It is still much faster than other labs, but what we’re doing today is, by the end of the day today, making substantial operational changes to get us back to our constant goal of 24 hours,” said Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s Test & Trace Corps.

City officials insist the city-run labs still turn test results around faster than private intake facilities.

Several other city agencies are also feeling the affects of the Omicron variant. The MTA said it’s trying not to let the increase in employee sick calls impact subway service. The FDNY said about 10% of firefighters and 17% of EMS personnel were out sick on Wednesday. In addition the NYPD said nearly 8% of its force was out.

“That’s roughly a doubling in about a week,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Update: New Synthetic Antibody Appears To Block Omicron, All Other Known Variants

CBS2’s Ali Bauman contributed to this report.