Alternative COVID Testing Sites: What We Can Do Now Instead of Waiting in Line


After four hard days in line, it’s time to think about Alternative COVID Testing Sites. Hundreds of Roosevelt Islanders flocked to Good Shepherd Plaza for COVID testing. Although many were eager and ready, there were a few problems that left us with less than stellar conditions.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Why Four Days in the Cold Shows We Need Alternative COVID Testing Sites

First, the wait times in line were excruciatingly long (up to 4 hours) with nowhere to sit and no restrooms. RIOC‘s failures at providing chairs or opening the nearby Good Shepherd Community Center for warmth made the situation worse. The elderly and disabled suffered most.

Other issues…

Because RIOC was about as useful as outdoor swimming pools in December, City Council Member-elect Julie Menin and State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright stepped in, arranging for a city-certified testing van at Good Shepherd Plaza. But because neither has official authority in the community, they left managing the location to the hapless state agency.

We learned that the majority of RIOC staff spends much of December appreciating the holidays from home in sweatpants. Probably with their phones turned off and email redirected.

How else can you explain the indifference and unpreparedness? Public Safety officers on the scene flat out refused to open up the community center for warmth or restrooms. But other reports from residents easily top that.

Asked why there were no chairs, not even for the elderly and/or the disabled, one officer said that you could catch COVID from sitting on chairs. Gag or laugh. Either is appropriate.

The Need for Alternative COVID Testing Sites Is Clear… and Doable

A quick NYC Ferry ride gets you to either of two easy-to-access free testing locations. You wait indoors with small or no lines and get reports within 24 hours.

  • Bellevue Hospital (10 Minute Walk from the 34th Street Ferry Landing)

NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
462 First Avenue, New York, New York 10016
Phone: 212-562-5555
COVID-19 Testing and Antibody Testing Offered Here
Monday – Thursday, Sunday, Walk Ins: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday, 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.
We will be CLOSED on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
*Walk-in hours may be subject to change depending on patient volume.
Pre-register for your visit

  • Metropolitan Hospital

NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan (You can see Metropolitan a short walk away from the 90th Street Ferry Landing)
1901 First Avenue, New York, New York 10029
Monday – Thursday, Sunday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
We will be CLOSED on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Phone: 212-423-6262
COVID-19 Testing and Antibody Testing Offered Here
Pre-register for your visit


Fortunately, there a readily available alternative COVID testing sites. Whether or not the van returns, we suggest them as better options for most residents. Standing in line for hours with support from RIOC, apart from Public Safety line control, isn’t necessary for most people getting tested.

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