CityMD reinstates virtual line for Covid testing as virus cases in NYC continue to rise

August 9, 2021

A relatively short CityMD line in November 2020. Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr cc

Back in December 2020, CityMD instituted a “virtual line” for people seeking Covid-19 tests, which allowed patients to check-in at the front desk and then receive a text when their time was close. The move came in response to complaints about hours-long lines as New Yorkers rushed to get tested before the holidays. Now, with the Delta variant causing a steep rise in cases across New York City, CityMD announced that today it would be reinstituting the virtual line, a stark reminder that the pandemic is not yet over.

By checking in with the virtual line, you will receive a text when it’s time to come back and fill out the registration form. You then have 30 minutes to arrive. The text also includes a link where you can track what spot you are in line. Along with the reinstation of this feature is the reinstation of CityMD ending all patient registration one hour prior to closing. However, as they explain on their website, “All patients who register and/or enter the virtual line prior to a location’s registration closing time will be seen.”

CityMD has 97 locations across New York City, with 28 in Manhattan alone. The urgent care clinic is popular for its walk-in model.

The news about the virtual line came as alarming to many, as it seemed New York City was past the days of lining up for a Covid test. But with the Delta variant now accounting for 83 percent of cases in the city, the numbers are rising.

As of August 5, the seven-day average for confirmed and probable Covid cases was 1,597, according to NYC Health Department data. Just one month prior, on July 5, that number was only 243.

Hospitalizations remain relatively low, at a seven-day average of 48 as of August 5, but still double the average of 23 on July 5. This stable rate points to the fact that the city’s vaccination effort is working and even those testing positive are not getting sick enough to require hospitalization.

But perhaps the most important number to pay attention to is the transmission rate. According to the CDC, the Delta variant is twice as transmissible as previous virus strains and may cause more than two times as many infections. In New York City, the citywide transmission rate as of August 5 was 134.1, well into the “high” category. On July 5, it was 20.42, on the low end of the “moderate” category.

The CDC has already classified all of New York City as an area of high or substantial transmission and recommended even those vaccinated begin to wear masks indoors again.


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