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The arrival of the omicron variant caught city officials off guard, overwhelming testing capacity just as residents of the biggest U.S. city were getting set to travel for the winter holidays. In addition to spending hours in the cold for a test, many are waiting days to receive their results.

“It is disappointing,” says Jessica Justman, an associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. “Especially because we’ve been there before in the first part of this pandemic.”

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