Dr. William C. Gehrhardt, medical director at the Dolan Family...

Dr. William C. Gehrhardt, medical director at the Dolan Family Health Center, administers a COVID-19 test in Greenlawn last year. Credit: Barry Sloan

The demand for COVID-19 testing has soared in recent days, prompting some local facilities to expand their capacity in anticipation of further increase in the coming weeks due to holiday travel and family gatherings.

"We'd average anywhere from 50 to 100 [a week] before these last two weeks. And now it looks like we're over 200 in a week so it's more than double the number of requests for tests," said David Nemiroff, president and chief executive of the nonprofit, Long Island FQHC, which has six facilities in Nassau County and three school-based health centers.

What is also rising was the positivity rate.

"We had 41 positives in the last four days," Nemiroff said. "And before that, we were typically doing one to two positives a day."

In New York, 22,478 people tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday, including 2,023 new cases in Nassau County and 1,950 in Suffolk County. The number of positive cases statewide broke the record that was set Friday and was three times the number a month ago.

The seven-day positivity rate on Long Island has also continued to rise in the past week, reaching 9.3% Saturday — the highest in the state. Gov. Kathy Hochul over the weekend urged more New Yorkers to take precautions during the winter surge.

"This is not March of 2020, we are not defenseless," Hochul said in a statement Sunday. "We have the tools to protect ourselves and the vulnerable loves ones in our families: Get vaccinated, get the booster and wear a mask when indoors or in large gatherings."

Nemiroff said in an interview Sunday that his locations handled 63 tests on Friday, 12 of which came back positive with 28 cases still pending. Those who tested positive ranged from 1 through 60 years old, he said.

"It's been a long time since we've tested this many positives," said Nemiroff, who noted he was in talks with vendors to get more testing supplies. "We haven't reached capacity where we turned people away, but it's running very low."

At the three Long Island NYU Langone Health locations in Mineola, Lake Success and Huntington where patients get tested before surgery or on doctors’ orders, a spokeswoman said they have seen a 25% increase in scheduled appointments in the last 48 hours.

"Demand for testing is skyrocketing," hospital spokeswoman Anne Kazel-Wilcox wrote in an email Sunday. "We are increasing testing capacity further this week in anticipation of holiday gatherings and travel."

New Yorkers can visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing to find a testing site near them.

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