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Brooklyn Businesses Suffering Amid COVID-19 Surge, New Study Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new study reveals just how hard some local businesses are being hit by Omicron this holiday season.

The coffee isn't flowing like it used to at BKLYN Blend in Bed-Stuy.

"We have seen a bit of a decline in sales, which isn't typical for us during this season, and we're trying to figure out if it's fear or are people not in town," manager Desiree Mullins told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

In addition to fewer customers, the mom-and-pop shop is also struggling with staffing shortages as the Omicron variant surges.

"It's already a short staff, a skeleton crew. A couple of people whose roommates have tested positive, so they think were exposed," Mullins said.


The coffee shop is not alone.

A new study from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce found 77% of small businesses in the borough have seen a reduction in holiday sales this year, 59% had employees calling out sick during the last three weeks and 20% closed fully during the holidays.

"So we're really, really in a challenging position right now for a lot of these small businesses that were just barely hanging on," said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

Even CityMD is temporarily closing another 20 locations in New York City to preserve its ability to staff the remaining ones.

The city and state are opening new testing sites to deal with the demand, but Wednesday, one state testing site in the Bronx had a two-hour wait time.

Leticia Grate spent her afternoon in a line for testing outside a Co-Op City clinic.

"You have to provide people with the resources that they need to get tested," she said.

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

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is warning at-home rapid antigen tests may be less effective at detecting Omicron but maintains those tests are still worthwhile.

"Don't let anybody think that the FDA was saying that tests are no longer good. They say they're less sensitive now," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is defending its updated guidelines, specifically that a negative COVID test is not required to come out of the shortened five-day isolation period.

"With a negative antigen test, we'd still ask you to wear a mask. With a positive antigen test, we'd still say you can wear a mask, and since it wasn't going to make a difference in our recommendations, we did not recommend an antigen at that period of time," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

The CDC director also says PCR tests are not viable for testing out of isolation either because those can come back positive for up to 12 weeks.

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