But for many, the trouble was simply getting into a clinic.
At 10 a.m., Avi Weinstein, 31, was waiting in line under a light rain on West 88th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, inching his way toward a CityMD urgent care center where he hoped to get tested. “I’ve been here for an hour and a half,” he said.
Mr. Weinstein said he had come down with a fever the previous night and was worried that he might have been infected while celebrating the election results last week with friends.
“I was expecting a long line,” he said, “but not this long.”
The line would grow longer over the morning, with some people waiting nearly three hours before they reached the clinic’s door.
“We want to see our grandchildren at Thanksgiving, and we hope if everyone tests negative that can happen,” said Erica Eisinger, 76, who was waiting with her husband, Peter.
The scene was the same at CityMD clinics across New York: long lines and varying levels of frustration and bafflement as to why getting a timely, convenient virus test was a struggle so many months into the pandemic.
In the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, Arjun Mocherla waited outside a CityMD clinic for nearly an hour, advancing maybe 15 feet in a socially distanced line. Mr. Mocherla, a New York University law student, had been tested through the university in the past.
“This is my first line,” he said. “I’m starting to regret it already.”
Then someone told him the wait might be four hours. He left.
Elisha Brown and Matthew Sedacca contributed reporting.