HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the Virginia Department of Health is opening nine new community testing centers to increase testing availability across the Commonwealth.
According to Northam's office, the testing locations will be near or on the same property as existing VDH community vaccination centers in Charlottesville, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Prince William, Richmond and Roanoke.
Testing centers will offer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and will supplement locally-coordinated community testing events.
“Testing is a critical tool in our fight against COVID-19, and we must continue to everything we can do increase access,” Northam said. “As Virginians continue to grapple with a national shortage of rapid tests, expanding our PCR capabilities will ensure more Virginians have access to free, reliable testing and can better protect themselves and their families.”
The testing centers are expected to administer more than 50,000 tests in the month of January.
According to Northam's office, the first community testing center will open on January 8 at the Richmond International Raceway, with eight additional sites opening in the coming weeks.
Each of the nine sites will operate between 4 and 6 days per week and will be open from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m., depending on the location.
Regarding the Hampton Roads-area testing centers, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health told News 3 they will not be located inside the currently open vaccination centers; they will be separate and they will be adjacent to the vaccination centers.
There will be one at Military Circle in Norfolk, and there will be one outside the current vaccination center in Newport News at the Sherwood Shopping Center on Warwick Boulevard. They will be run by Ashbritt-Iem, the vendor that’s currently running the vaccination centers.
VDH plans to open the testing centers next week. More details are forthcoming.
It's unknown exactly how many tests they’ll be able to administer every day, but the spokesperson said they are “pretty well geared up."
Gov. Northam is allocating $5 million for this initiative.