Omicron Update NYC: FDNY reminds New Yorkers not to call 911 for COVID testing

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
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The FDNY is reminding New Yorkers to only call 911 for a real emergency and that ambulances don't provide COVID testing. CeFaan Kim has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The FDNY is reminding New Yorkers to only call 911 for a real emergency and that ambulances don't provide COVID testing or transportation to be tested.

The department says it is getting hundreds of additional 911 calls, some asking for an ambulance ride to get a coronavirus test.

"Our medical leave right now is that 30% for EMS and 17 for fire personnel," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "Those numbers are even higher than they were back when when we were at the height of the pandemic, last March and April. So it's certainly affecting our manpower status."

Nigro is sounding the alarm, but reassured the city that every EMS station and firehouse is open and every call is being answered.

More than 100 new EMTs have been deployed and mandatory overtime is helping to fill staffing gaps.

But that doesn't change the plea to New Yorkers to not call 911 unless it's an emergency.

The department even posted a reminder on social media after fielding hundreds of more calls a day, some asking for an ambulance for a ride to the hospital for a COVID test.

"Don't call us if you need a test," Nigro said. "We don't do testing. Don't call us if you think you should get a ride to the hospital for testing. Because that's really not where you should go for a test."

Over at the NYPD they've canceled all regular days off on Dec. 31 and Jan 1.

"In order to provide police coverage for New Year's celebrations in Times Square and for precincts throughout the city, the NYPD has ordered all uniformed members of the service who would regularly be off to report for duty. Effective Friday, Dec. 31 and Saturday, Jan. 1, all uniformed members regular days off are cancelled and they are to report to their respective commands for their assigned tour," an NYPD statement said.

This is due both to COVID-19 and the staffing needs required for NYE

The NYPD says 17 percent of its personnel called out sick on Tuesday.

It all comes as testing sites are getting crushed across NYC and the state. Thirteen new state testing sites opened Wednesday with at least one in every borough.

Gov. Kathy Hochul warns things could still get worse after New York set another daily record with 67,000 positive tests.

"We do think there's going to be a spike in cases that's going to continue, not just in our positive rates, but also in hospitalizations," she said. "We're basically preparing for a January surge, we know it's coming, and we're nave to think it won't."

ALSO READ | 31 CityMDs temporarily close, NY opens 13 more COVID testing sites

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