NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lines were long again Thursday — typically the busiest travel day of the holiday season — at COVID testing sites throughout New York City.

People lined up on Columbia Street early in the morning for tests on the Lower East Side, while thousands took advantage of free at-home test kits, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported.

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“We got out of our pajamas and put on pants as fast as possible,” Bob Kreizel said.

At-home COVID tests were handed out, almost like Christmas gifts, across the city.

“It’s a holiday present in the sense that we can spend time with friends and family now, hopefully, safely,” one person said.

Chopper 2 saw the long line from high above Manhattan.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will hand out another 2,000 kits at the following sites beginning at 9 a.m. Friday:

  • THE BRONX: Corner of E Fordham Road and E Kingsbridge Road in Bryan Park
  • BROOKLYN: Corner of Church Ave and Flatbush Ave in Flatbush
  • MANHATTAN: Corner of West 125th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard
  • QUEENS: Corner of Jamaica Avenue and 92nd Street in Woodside
  • STATEN ISLAND: Staten Island Ferry, 1 Bay Street

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

The rapid tests are the same ones that have been flying off store shelves. Some pharmacies put limits on how many customers can buy in order to manage the demand.

In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Barbara Cucuzza came out with her husband after they learned their 4-year-old grandson was exposed to COVID-19.

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“We think someone in his class has it, so it’s a close contact. So we’re doing this to make sure we can still have Christmas Eve,” Cucuzza said.

COVID VACCINE

The tests were about peace of mind for many.

“I’m in line to get a test today because I am going to see my 91-year-old dad, Christmas on Saturday. He’s boosted, but he’s still 91,” said Maura Kanuri.

“Both my son and my daughter’s schools were closed because of exposure, so we just want to make sure we’re safe for the holidays,” said Victor Eodenmiller.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The city helped distribute 2,000 at-home rapid tests at five locations, one in each borough. The line on Staten Island stretched down the block. It was much of the same in Queens.

People in New Jersey showed up en masse to the New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus. The line of cars flowed well beyond the parking lot.

Wait times for results are an issue. While rapid tests take 15 minutes, PCR tests can take days since labs are stretched thin.

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CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team