Appointments running out, expect long wait if you want a COVID test before Thanksgiving
Posted November 20, 2020 5:19 a.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2020 3:03 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County's free COVID-19 testing sites are booking up quickly as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.
County officials tell WRAL News demand skyrocketed 71% this week as people seek to follow expert recommendations to get tested before celebrating with people outside immediate family.
By Saturday morning, all appointments through Tuesday were booked for drive-through testing at the Sunnybrook parking deck in east Raleigh.
On Friday, Amy Schaberg and her husband Rex waited for hours for a test before a smaller holiday celebration with a friend.
"We would have come earlier, but this is the first slot we could get prior to Thanksgiving," Schaberg told WRAL News. "All the other slots were already taken."
“We are not working on this problem as a nation," added Rex Schaberg, "so delays are what you get when you don’t put the full resources of the government behind a comprehensive testing program.”
Vernon Hunter, also waiting in line, said he's still planning a small family gathering of six people, down from the usual 18.
“We’re all getting tested. We’re still going to social distance. We’re going to eat outside and stay within our family pod,” Hunter added. “I think it’s everyone’s personal responsibility to keep the spread down."
Wake County officials say the Sunnybrook site did 7,153 tests in October, and 4,979 already in November. Just in the past two days, it's risen from an average 350 tests a day to 500.
At the Radeus Labs site in Wake Forest, the increase in the past two days has been even steeper, from an average of 1,000 tests a day to 2,000. To date, Radeus has done 18.638 tests in November, far surpassing 12,715 in all of October.
By Saturday afternoon, Radeus had remaining appointments for testing on Wednesday. Those who test Wednesday "would be lucky" to get results back in time to change their Thanksgiving plans, a spokesman said.
Sunnybrook Building parking deck
2925 Holston Lane, Raleigh
Nov. 20-21, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 27-28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
907 Gateway Commons Circle, Wake Forest
Nov. 21-21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nov. 23–25 and Nov. 27–28, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nearly 4,500 tests have been taken in Wake County this month. The county said the average wait time for test results at Sunnybrook is 24 to 48 hours, although most get results within 24 hours.
In Wake Forest, most people are receiving their results in 12 to 24 hours.
LabCorp reports it's processing tests around the clock, completing about 200-thousand tests per day across the country.
If you need to get tested, make an appointment online to avoid wait times. If you don't live in Wake County, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has a list of free testing sites across the state.
NCDHHS recommends calling ahead to testing sites to ask about capacity before going.
People who should be tested include those who:
- Have COVID-like symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and loss of smell
- Have been in close contact with a known positive case of COVID-19
- Are healthcare workers or first responders
- Work in high-risk settings like long-term care facilities, correctional facilities or homeless shelters
- Are 65 years old or older
- Have underlying health conditions
- Are a member of a vulnerable or historically marginalized population
- Have attended a mass gathering or protest
- Are a frontline worker in a setting where social distancing is difficult