Citing staffing challenges, local urgent care chain CityMD has temporarily shuttered 19 offices in New York City, Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey, according to a statement posted to its website. The closure represents more than one in 10 of the private health care sites, which provide a range of services including COVID-19 testing.

“Continuing to provide these services to the community is a top priority; however, our physicians and teammates are also a priority,” the statement reads. “It is our hope that closing sites now will best allow us to avoid future closures as this surge continues.”

The closures took effect Wednesday, and CityMD did not say when the shuttered sites will reopen, only that it will notify patients when the time comes. In the meantime, the statement directed clients of the closed offices to other CityMD locations. Before today, it typically operated about 150 urgent cares, which offer physical exams, X-rays and other services.

“More than 130 CityMD sites that are open offer a full range of urgent care services, including COVID-19 evaluation and testing,” Joy Lee-Calio, a CityMD spokesperson, said in an emailed statement. “Stay safe."

It’s not the first time CityMD has abruptly altered course during a COVID wave. The chain shortened its hours of operation in the run-up to Thanksgiving 2020, saying staff members’ health was at risk.

This time around, the tri-state area is in the midst of a massive COVID surge driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate that omicron accounts for 92% of cases in the New York and New Jersey region The New York City health department has reported an average of 11,400 new cases per day over the last week, nearly double last winter’s peak. On December 15th alone, the city recorded close to 14,450 infections.

New Yorkers seeking tests after exposure or in preparation for travel have faced hours-long lines and days of waiting for results. CityMD told WNYC/Gothamist earlier this week that its patient load had increased by 25% since the start of the month and that PCR tests were taking more than five days to come back.

Staffing is also a concern at New York City hospitals, which say they’re managing the current surge but are making preparations in case doctors, nurses and other staff test positive and need to miss shifts. Hospitalizations have remained stable so far, but this data tends to lag behind cases and the positivity by a few weeks.

Catharine Smith contributed to reporting.