Despite the cold, a line stretches along Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island’s East Shore to get into an Urgent Care clinic.
It’s become a common sight, day after day, across the borough, as the number of coronavirus cases rises.
“I think everybody should be responsible to know whether there’s a problem or not, even if there’s no symptoms,” said one woman waiting in line to be tested.
Staten Island has a COVID-19 problem.
The seven-day average of positive tests is more than 4.5% in the borough – the highest in the city. In some communities here, it’s higher than 6%.
Here’s how one resident explained it: “There’s a lot of people that don’t get it yet. They don’t get it yet, and they don’t understand. And it’s very easy to get it.”
This city-run testing site inside the Greenbelt is not well-known, but it is drawing lines, too.
Before lunchtime Wednesday, more than 100 people already had been tested.
Testing is just one component of the city’s battle against the virus on Staten Island.
Last week, dozens of city workers and volunteers spread across the borough, offering information and personal protective equipment, although not everyone was interested.
“If you’re actually doing it, then it’s going to work. You know what I’m saying?,” said one resident. “If you’re not, you take off your mask, and you’re touching… It’s not going to work. It’s not going to happen.”
The city says it will continue its efforts on Staten Island for the foreseeable future, with a focus on testing and contact tracing to find out how the virus is spreading and discouraging residents from attending gatherings of more than ten people.
The borough could be heading toward orange zone designation if its numbers don’t improve.
The governor would make that decision — which would end indoor dining — and close non-essential businesses like nail salons and gyms.
The mayor closed public schools beginning Thursday, but orange zone designation would shut Catholic and private schools, too.
Residents and small business owners say it’s all bad news for people who have already struggled to stay afloat.
“More restrictions? I don’t know. There’s so many people out of work, and everything already. So I don’t know,” one woman explained.
“It really doesn’t sound good. If they start closing everything down, it’s going to turn real bad, real quick,” added another man.