Omicron Update NYC: Long testing lines, FDNY staff shortage day after Christmas

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, December 27, 2021
Omicron brings long testing lines, FDNY staff shortage
Naveen Dhaliwal has more from Times Square.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Christmas day is over, but vacation continues for many folks who are hoping not to change travel plans or bring COVID with them.

For those taking the subway this week -- prepare to wait longer for the train. The MTA will be scaling back service on Monday-Thursday trains as its own workforce confronts the COVID surge.

Meanwhile, the wait for a PCR test is long again. Angel Sanchez from Houston wants the all-clear before heading back home.

"Over there it's kind of quiet, still. So here... I think it's getting worse here," Sanchez said.

The number of positive cases in the city in the last day is nearly 15,000, along with 296 new hospitalizations, but visitors on line for tests were impressed with the way the city is handling the surge.

"Compared to the UK, it's quite good," David Bailey said. "Things are organized a lot better it seems."

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Like many families, Bailey says his kept the Christmas gathering very small.

"Only four. Saw our relatives before that, but at a distance," he said.

As the city counts down to the new year with a smaller than normal Times Square celebration to ring in 2022 next weekend, this weekend the city is grappling with a shortage of FDNY EMS personnel.

It's not unusual for many to have Christmas off and 5% out sick on the holiday. But the Department says 19% called out on Christmas this year.

Many tested positive for COVID.

Staff shortages for airlines are also causing flight cancellations.

Hundreds more flights were canceled across the country Sunday as the omicron COVID-19 variant stressed the air travel industry's workforce.

Statewide, 36,454 new positive COVID cases were reported and hospitalizations also rose slightly to 4,891.

But as the numbers rise post-holiday gatherings, it could take a while to get where we want to be.

Dr. Fauci says that even though the new omicron variant seems to be milder, "we've got to be careful that we don't get complacent about that because it might still lead to a lot of hospitalizations in the United States."

Fauci also said the U.S. has to do better when it comes to meeting the demand for testing.

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