Suggestions to help you cope with long COVID testing lines

With new cases rising this season, lines are getting longer at testing centers everywhere. This can be a frustrating experience, and even a dread to think about it. Let’s be honest, waiting in line to get tested for COVID-19 is not something anyone looks forward to.

You may be feeling anxious for plenty of reasons including just having to stand there wondering if you or the people around you are sick. On top of the long wait, the setting you may not be the most comfortable, whether that’s within a crowded indoor space or outside in the cold. Thus, this is yet another reminder that you are not alone, and we are in this together! Getting tested is important to keep ourselves and others safe. To help you get through the long lines with a little ease and peace of mind, we’ve gathered a list of things that you can do to have a smoother experience.

Call ahead…

Before leaving for a testing center, it may be beneficial to call ahead and find out if the site is still offering testing and to make sure they are not at capacity. This can save you time and allows you to check in with different testing sites around you. Need to find a testing site near you? Check out

Dress in layers…

Having layers on can be helpful. Depending on whether you’re waiting outside or inside, layers allow you the option of putting on more or taking off based on how you are feeling. This includes bringing a scarf, gloves, and a backpack to be able to put your things in.

Make a to-do list…

Before heading out, create a list of things that you have been putting off that you can do while you’re waiting in line. Some examples include making doctor’s appointments, cleaning out your inbox, making a grocery list, making phone calls etc. This allows you to make greater use of your time and it can make the waiting time go by faster!

Find out your estimated wait time…

To have more clarity and to take away some of the uncertainty you may be feeling, try to find out your estimated wait time. You can ask the staff to get an idea. This can help you plan your day accordingly.

Bring a book…

Occupy your time with a good book that you can immerse yourself in while you wait! Books can be a great escape when reality can feel draining or heavy.

Create a playlist…

Prior to leaving your home, create a playlist of either music or videos you’d like to listen to or watch while you’re waiting. Include any soothing sounds or videos that can help with COVID-19 anxiety. This can also give you something to look forward to while you’re in line.

Try a guided imagery meditation…

If you are feeling anxious while waiting, try a guided imagery meditation. You can find plenty on or you can easily think of your favorite place and use your five senses to imagine yourself there. As you envision yourself at your favorite place, think about what it smells like there, what you feel like, what you are seeing in front of you, and what you may be hearing or tasting!

Call a friend/family member…

Check-in with a friend and talk away as you wait. It can be a good time to catch up and can serve as a good distraction!

Listen to podcasts…

There are plenty of podcasts to choose from! Think of some things you wanted to learn more about or your interests and find a podcast around that! If you’re feeling COVID-19 anxiety, there are many podcasts centered on how to cope with these feelings as well.

Be Mindful:

Mindfulness can help ease anxiety and stress that can kick into overdrive while waiting. This can include focusing on your breathing and the present moment – trying to let go of any thoughts that pop into your head. You can try imagining your thoughts as clouds drifting away.

Questions about testing?

Call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYS Department of Health website.

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