Long testing lines in current virus epicenter New York are now being replicated across multiple other states – although people outside the Big Apple are more likely to wait for hours in the warmth and comfort of their cars, rather than shiver on sidewalks.
As people rush to get tested for the holidays scenes of hundreds of cars lined up bumper to bumper in long stretches of traffic and people in long lines that wrap around multiple blocks are becoming the new normal.
This comes as the U.S. hit a new high for new daily COVID cases with 647,067 average daily cases reported on Thursday, breaking its previous record of 489,267 reported on Wednesday, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of John Hopkins data.
MIAMI, FLORIDA: In an aerial view, cars line up at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Zoo Miami site on Wednesday
ORLANDO, FLORIDA: Cars line up near a COVID-19 testing site at the South Orange Youth Sports Complex in Orlando on Thursday
HOUSTON, TEXAS: Aerial view of vehicles lining up for COVID-19 tests Thursday near Minute Maid Park for one of the sought-after testd
COLUMBUS, OHIO: Volunteer healthcare workers test people at a COVID-19 pop-up testing site sponsored by a health care group on Thursday
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of new cases in America are of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered last month by South African health officials.
The U.S. is now averaging 300,387 new Covid cases per day, a pandemic record and the first time the 300,000 mark has been reached in America.
The rise in cases has led to long lines and long waits for testing like at the mega testing site at Minute Maid Park in Houston that had a wait of up to five hours on Thursday, KHOU.com reported.
Lines wrapped around the ballpark as the site struggled to accommodate the 2.600 scheduled tests, closing shop at 8 pm instead of its scheduled closing time of 4pm.
But despite the long wait, people on line said they did not mind.
‘Agonizing, very agonizing. But, it was worth the wait,’ one person told KHOU. ‘If they could get more help that would be great but we understand.’
A similar scene was seen in the small town of Winfield in Missouri where a state-sponsored testing site went from administering 50 test per week to having a 600 car long line on Wednesday morning.
The site was so packed that police and city officials closed the site due to safety concerns, AP reported.
As the state reached it’s highest hospitalization rate since August with 2,265 people hospitalized with the virus on Thursday, the Missouri Department of Health announced plans to add an additional testing site in St. Louis this weekend, three sites in St. Louis next week, and one to three sites in Kansas City, AP reported.
A Reddit user post a picture of a long Covid testing line at Kaiser Fontana on Thursday that someone said they waited on for three hours
BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA: The line for Covid testing in the Bay Area as people rush to get tested following holiday gatherings
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: A frustrated driver post a picture of the traffic caused by a long line of cars attempting to get Covid testing on Wednesday
KANEOHE, HAWAII: A person exposed to COVID in Hawaii waits in line to check his status
KANSAS, CITY: Twitter user post a long line of cars with passengers waiting to get a Covid test in Kansas City on Thursday
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: The line for a testing site in Brooklyn Park went all the way into a parking lot before they close for the New Years holiday
In Denver one woman shared a picture of a massive testing line that stretched down a road and into a parking lot the same week Colorado recorded a record high 10,153 new cases on Monday.
A woman told FOX 31 that despite getting to the site early, she still had to wait over two hours for a test.
‘I came early,’ she told FOX 31. ‘They opened at 9, and I showed up around like 8:40 … (the line) was like wrapped around, and I didn’t get in until 11.’
Long lines were also seen in parts of Florida, California, New York and Rhode Island which have been hit hard by the Omicron surge.
More than 500,000 Covid cases were reported on Monday, though that was a result of a large backlog of cases from the Christmas holiday. Wednesday’s total is the largest increase from only a single day.
Deaths are down by five percent, with a daily average of 1,221, though a grim CDC model forecasts that more than 42,000 Americans could die in the next three weeks. Hospitalizations are up by 15 percent, with a daily average of 78,781 per day, according to the New York Times.
The fact that deaths and hospitalizations are not rising at the same pace as positive cases show how the Omicron variant is less severe than Delta and more patients are experiencing milder cases.
Some cases may not even be making the official count because of the rise in at-home tests. What’s more worrisome about the high numbers is that health experts often expect disturbances in testing and data reporting, the news outlet reported.
About 62 percent of the US is fully vaccinated, with 73 percent having received their first dose, according to the New York Times. And about 68.8 million of the fully vaccinated have also received a third dose, or a booster shot, since Aug. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fifteen states reported a record-high number of average daily infections, according to the CDC. They include Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington. Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
With the case count rising so rapidly, partly due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, the CDC estimates that more than three Americans are testing positive every second.
‘We are at the very beginning, unfortunately, and likely have at least four to eight weeks before we’re going to see it rise and then begin to fall again. And during that time, we are going to see COVID activity in this country like we haven’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic,’ Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, told CBS News.