Dec. 23, 2021 By Allie Griffin
The federal government has opened three COVID-19 testing sites in Queens as officials from all levels of government rush to raise testing capacity amid a surge of cases.
The first site run by the CDC opened in Travers Park in Jackson Heights Wednesday. Two more mobile test sites — one in Queens Valley Playground in Flushing and another in Helen Marshall Playground in East Elmhurst — opened Thursday.
The three sites are the first federal testing sites to open in the city. At least three more are expected to open in the coming days, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer — who is pushing for even more federal sites.
The openings come just days after several Queens officials called for greater COVID-19 testing capacity in the borough — especially for Queens’ youngest residents.
Council Member-elect Shekar Krishnan pushed for the first test site in Travers Park, in the district he will soon represent.
Krishnan, the father of a three-year-old, also advocated for more test sites specifically capable of testing children under the age of four in Queens. Only three city-run sites offer COVID-19 testing for children as young as two years old, despite that children under five cannot get vaccinated against the virus.
In a win for worrisome parents, the new CDC-run sites can test New Yorkers of all ages — including toddlers three and younger.
Yesterday, @POTUS committed to setting up emergency COVID-19 testing sites in hard-hit areas. Today, the first of these sites opened in NYC, with more to open in the next week. Together, these federal sites in New York City will be able to provide 25,000 free PCR tests/week. pic.twitter.com/iXk1oKwx9l
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 22, 2021
Altogether, the three CDC test sites will provide an additional 25,000 PCR tests per week. The sites are in communities most in need of testing.
Demand for tests has skyrocketed in the city over the past few weeks amid a massive surge in cases fueled by the Omicron variant. A record-shattering 150,000 people have gotten tested per day in the city, according to the city’s public hospital system.
The city reported a seven-day average of 11,499 new cases on Thursday, according to the latest data.
The new CDC mobile sites offer self-administered PCR tests and are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Grateful that #JacksonHeights/#Elmhurst was one of the first federal sites in the country,” Krishnan posted on Twitter. “We were the epicenter of COVID and our need for testing capacity is great.”
He seconded Schumer’s calls for more federal sites. Schumer has asked FEMA to deploy 100 across the five boroughs.
“Echoing @SenSchumer that we need many more testing sites across NYC, immediately,” Krishnan said. “We remain woefully underprepared.”
The three CDC mobile test sites are located at 76-9 34th Ave. (Travers Park); the corner of 137th Street and 77th Avenue (Queens Valley Playground) and the corner of 100th Street and 24th Avenue (Helen Marshall Playground). The sites will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Another test site new to Queens is a city-run fixed testing site at the Newtown High School athletic field, located at 90-20 56th Ave. in Elmhurst. The site opened Tuesday and tests residents four and up.
Local Queens lawmakers have also worked with community-based organizations to open more COVID-19 test facilities.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani and Council Member Tiffany Cabán announced that a new PCR test site will open Friday at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria, located at 21-12 30th Rd.
The site will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in conjunction with MetPath Laboratories. Results will be provided within 48 hours and insurance isn’t required. It will be closed on Christmas day and will run through Dec. 31.
The three legislators announced its opening two days after hosting a press conference to call on the city to increase testing sites in the neighborhood.
Mamdani said many residents have spent hours waiting in the cold for COVID tests only to get turned away or never receive their results.
“We have been calling on the City to remedy this immediately, and we continue to do so,” he said in a statement. “But we cannot afford to wait any longer. We are in a crisis today, so we must respond today.”
Congress Member Grace Meng and Council Member-elect Lynn Schulman have also brought a pop-up COVID-19 testing site to Forest Hills. The site is open today from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Lady Queen of Martyrs, located at 72-55 Austin St., and is run by SOMOS Community Care.
The city is also handing out 2,000 free at-home rapid test kits in each borough, starting today. Lines at today’s Queens location, located at 37th Avenue and Junction Boulevard in Corona, wrapped the block.
There’s really no reason for this. So hard for everyone— esp seniors, families w babies, people w disabilities— having to stand in the cold for hours for something that could easily be in their mailbox. New Jersey overnighted tests via UPS. Why can’t we do the same? https://t.co/pfIqp1xggy
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) December 23, 2021
Tomorrow, the city will hand out the 2,000 free at-home test kits at Jamaica Avenue and 92nd Street in Woodhaven beginning at 9 a.m.
New Yorkers who are 65 years and older and/or immunocompromised can also schedule an appointment to be tested for COVID-19 in their own homes by calling 929-298-9400.
To find a COVID-19 test site near you, visit nyc.gov/covidtest.