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New York State Sets COVID-19 Infection Record For Third Straight Day, With More Than 22,000 Positive Cases

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Sunday marked another one-day record for COVID-19 cases in New York state.

Of the 267,422 tests administered, 22,478 -- or 8.4% -- came back positive.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is warning a swift wave of Omicron variant cases is taking hold in the Big Apple.

Officials are now ramping up efforts to deal with the surge, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

Watch: Mayor Bill De Blasio's Sunday COVID-19 Press Briefing

COVID-19 testing sites have been facing an influx of people over the past few days. From Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, Sunday marked another day of at-home rapid tests sold out at drug stores, and long lines -- some for blocks -- at testing tents and brick and mortar locations.

"I had a friend who waited for two hours today on the East Side and before he got to his place, they stopped the line," Manhattan resident Josh Ellis told CBS2's Lisa Rozner.

"I had to book an appointment for the next day," added resident Siddharth Konde.

However, the mayor said the city has a plan to alleviate pressure on the system.

"This is an urgent situation and we need to act urgently. We are seeing a very substantial rise in the number of cases in a way we haven't seen previously," de Blasio 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


The mayor said Omicron is hitting our city like a fast-moving storm and is certain to make the next few weeks extremely challenging.

"We expect these next weeks to see a very, very big surge in the number of cases. More than we've seen  previously. And then we expect, after a period of time, that it will dissipate," de Blasio said.

"The personal decisions we make over the next two weeks could determine the success of our city over the next two years," Mayor-elect Eric Adams added.

Adams was asked on CNN if he will mandate booster shots after taking office on Jan. 1.

"I believe we may get to that point. I cannot continue to emphasize that this is a moving target and we should not be so stringent and unwilling to pivot when is necessary," Adams said.

On Sunday, de Blasio teamed up with Adams to present a united front. To deal with the influx of cases and a backlog in testing, the city said it is increasing testing capacity.

"We're opening new sites in every single borough. We're adding 17 mobile units this week. We're expanding hours. We have our wait time tracker. We're handing out home test kits and working with community-based organizations," said Dr. Ted Long, director of the city's Test & Trace Corps.

Health officials added the city is also upping its vaccination efforts, through a $10 million paid media campaign, as well as targeting long-term care homes. The goal is to remind people that the shot is still the best defense against COVID.

"It can protect you from severe disease. Our level of vaccination built up our seawall ahead of this Omicron wave. Boosters shore up that protection," city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.

Manhattan has the highest COVID rate among the five boroughs, but officials said it's partly because of increased testing there. Councilman Mark Levine, the chair of the Health Committee, tweeted, "Be especially cautious about indoor gatherings where masks come off."


Ahead of families gathering for the holidays, demand for Food and Drug Administration-approved COVID tests is being seen online, too.

Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, the Connecticut-based founder of the test Detect, said every day at noon his company's test, which delivers results in an hour, is selling out. But he said the company is increasing production.

"Shipping is free. We have to limit the number of tests you can get to three, but you'll have it in two days," Rothberg said.

Health officials said if you are trying to get a test results quickly, they recommend you try a city-run facility over a private location.

Right now, city sites are averaging a 24-hour turnaround.

Officials are reminding symptomatic New Yorkers that you can go to one of the city's free isolation hotels by calling 311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

And while the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square is still on, the mayor said that he and his team are reassessing the situation.

"So we've been in touch with Time Square Alliance. We're going to make a decision before Christmas. We're certainly looking at the new challenge we're facing. But, again, this is an all-vaccination event, and it is outdoors and those are two very, very important, favorable factors," de Blasio said.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon and Lisa Rozner contributed to this report.

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