Dec 18, 2021 - Health

COVID testing site lines spike ahead of holidays

Cars line up at a rapid antigen coronavirus testing site at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens near Miami, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

With a rise in coronavirus cases across the country and the holiday season in full swing, getting a COVID-19 test has become harder with testing sites already starting to see long lines, NBC News reports.

Driving the news: COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing across the country, and the U.S. is averaging 122,000 new cases per day as the holiday season gets underway and will bring more people together.

By the numbers: COVID-19 tests are getting harder to obtain with long lines at testing centers in cities like New York City and Miami.

  • CityMD, an urgent care provider, said its testing volume increased more than 25% over the two last weeks in New York City, and that lab results are taking as long as three to five days to come back, per NBC.
  • On Friday, New York reported 21,027 COVID cases, surpassing the previous single-day record.

The state of play: Local health agencies in Indiana told residents this month that the state had limited rapid tests or are no longer offering them, per NBC.

  • Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a news conference Thursday that residents should consider moving their holiday events outdoors as drive-thru testing sites in the state had long lines of cars.
  • Philadelphia's health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole also said that the city could be entering "the most dangerous time since last winter" due to a rise in cases, hospitalizations, the new Omicron variant and holiday gatherings.

But, but, but: At-home COVID-19 tests are also hard to come by with residents in Hartford, Connecticut, leaving pharmacies empty-handed because brands like BinaxNOW and QuickVue At-Home are out of stock, per NBC.

  • Abbott, which produces the BinaxNow rapid test, previously told Axios ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday that it had scaled up its manufacturing operation to produce more than 50 million tests per month, and will be "widely available" through the holidays.

What they're saying: "For that extra reassurance, as we have more disease in this country right now, do a test and make sure that you're negative before you mix and gather in different households," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a White House briefing on Friday.

  • "The reality is testing resources aren't infinite in this country," Dr. Meena Brewster, health officer in St. Mary's County, Maryland, told NBC News.
  • "Depending on how omicron goes, we may very well get to long delays in test turnaround times and very restricted access to testing, like where we were early on in the pandemic," Brewster added.
Go deeper