Wait times increase for COVID-19 testing as community spread spikes in Hampton Roads

COVID-19 test
Posted at 4:42 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 16:53:47-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — COVID-19 tests may be harder to come by. Wait times are increasing for those who need to get a swab as demand for tests surges with uptick in the virus’s spread.

Dozens of people flocked to Military Circle Mall Wednesday for the Virginia Department of Health’s second testing clinic. Health officials says they’re seeing more people than they expected.

“Last week we tested 136 [people], and out of that 136, 13 came back positive, which is 10%. That’s actually the percentage we see in the community,” said Virginia Beach Department of Health Emergency Coordinator Bob Engle.

Engel says there were people lined up at the clinic at 12 p.m., even though it wasn’t scheduled to open until 1 p.m.

The health department was prepared to administer more than 100 more tests this week as COVID-19 spread drives demand.

“We’ve got 250 tests today. We can get more if needed, but we’re prepared to do up to 250 tests, and as you can see, we’ve got off to a quick start here,” said Engle.

The community testing events are for people who are experiencing symptoms or have recently been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. All samples are sent out to a lab with results in two to three days.

“Over the summer, people got relaxed - masks came off; people went back to their normal lives. The positive cases have gone up dramatically through July and August, and that’s causing people far more concern,” said Engle.

Velocity Urgent Care CEO Barbara Smith says the company is seeing a 50% increase in testing just since June.

“We saw significant increase in the number of patients that are coming to us for COVID testing. In addition to that, we are receiving a lot of calls from businesses that want their employees tested now on a regular basis,” explained Smith.

She says it’s a perfect storm of employers requiring the unvaccinated to be tested, increased travel and the virus infecting more people.

Related: Hampton business owners react to FDA's full vaccine approval

“If you go online right now and try to schedule a COVID test online with an actual scheduled appointment, we’re out about two days may be a little bit longer [wait], said Smith.

Now they’re asking the patients to be patient as they work to meet the demand.

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