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New Yorkers Wait In Rain For Christmas Day COVID Tests

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Long lines formed Saturday at COVID testing sites in New York City.

Meantime, President Biden announced plans to buy and distribute 500 million at-home tests starting in January to help meet nationwide demand. But there are some concerns about them, CBS2's Leah Mishkin reported.

Maruca Smith has a flight from New York to Miami on Sunday morning.

"I'm going with one of my friends. We're just going for a few days," said Smith, who needs a COVID test in order to board.

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

A walk-in clinic on 57th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue was one of the few open Christmas Day.

"We celebrate normally on the 24th, so we had our dinner yesterday and today we're standing here in the rain," said Amanda Smith.

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

Her mother was told more than 60 people were waiting inside and they might not get in. The clinic would close early because of the holiday.

"If we don't find it here, we have to go find something else. It'll be a fun Christmas," she said.

The line at ClearMD on 6th Avenue wrapped around the building.

Izzie Gutenplan is visiting her grandmother Monday and wanted to be extra cautious. She didn't mind waiting in line.

"I've heard of a bunch of people with the rapid at-home test that test a bunch negative and then get a positive PCR. So I definitely wanted to do a PCR," Gutenplan said.

At-home tests are about 85% accurate, according to epidemiologist Stephanie Silvera.

"If you're negative, it might be too early in the disease process for you to hit that marker," Silvera said.


That means you could be walking around with COVID without realizing it.

Another challenge is reporting the results. The city isn't automatically alerted to positive at-home tests.

"In terms of planning for hospitalizations, it can be much harder when you don't know how many cases there really are at any given time," Silvera said.

The daily average of confirmed COVID cases in New York City is about 10,000. The hospitalization rate is averaging about 115 cases daily.

At-home tests are a good first step to know your status, according to Silvera.

"The challenge is finding a way to get that back to the states and the municipalities, so that they can not only count you, but also really importantly do the contact tracing," Silvera said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about contact tracing and whether the city should give guidance on what people should do with their at-home test results.

"We do need to give clear instructions to people, how to comport themselves when they get that test," de Blasio said.

City officials said anyone with a positive at-home test is encouraged to call 212-COVID-19 immediately so the city can effectively contact trace.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin contributed to this report.

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