Hours-long lines show demand for COVID-19 testing

The holiday surge for a coronavirus test is not going anywhere. As more people line up in Charlotte, the federal government promises more help.
Hours-long lines show demand for COVID-19 testing
Hours-long lines show demand for COVID-19 testing
Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 5:30 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s one of the hardest appointments to find – one for a COVID-19 test. The demand skyrocketed around the holidays leading to hours-long lines and a strain on resources.

“Last couple of weeks has been a significant increase obviously especially the last four days leading up to Christmas holiday our lines have just continue to grow,” Dr. Mike Estramonte with StarMed said.

The holidays hit COVID-19 testing especially hard. People waited at the Tuckaseegee StarMed site in Charlotte for nearly two hours Monday, down from four hours over the weekend. Nearly 19,000 tests were given in just six days across StarMed.

“It was challenging for our team we were a little bit short-staffed, the national guard wasn’t able to help us, and they’re usually really fantastic, and the lines were long the last few days,” Dr. Estramonte said.

That’s a problem as the contagious omicron variant spreads according to Dr. Estramonte. It’s now the dominant strain in the U-S making access to testing more important than ever. President Joe Biden says his administration is trying to shorten wait times but admits they’re behind the ball.

“But it’s not enough. It’s clearly not enough. If I had - if we’d known, we would have gone harder and quicker if we could’ve,” President Biden said.

During a meeting with governors from across the country Monday the President promised to provide 500 million at-home tests and one-thousand additional military medical professionals to help with the demand for tests and treatment.

“If last year is any indication especially with omicron being more contagious we’re definitely going to have an increase in positivity rate and an increase in testing probably until the middle of January,” Dr. Estramonte said.

StarMed said they are prepared. They just received 60,000 rapid tests and their lab is running around the clock. Dr. Estramonte is hopeful that Omicron will move out as quickly as it moved in, easing the burden on testing sites and hospitals.

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