COVID-19 testing sites experience high demand days before Christmas

Christmas is just a few days away, and this year there’s a new kind of holiday rush. In addition to last-minute shopping, people are rushing to get in line for last-minute COVID-19 tests before they travel for the holidays.

On Monday, the state-run testing site at Tropicana Field was forced to close a half-hour early in order to be able to make it through the long line of cars already waiting to be tested. On Tuesday, the site once again closed early at 12:15 p.m.

However, it’s not just the Bay Area that has seen an increase in traffic. Across the state, long lines could be found at various testing locations. In Miami, those in line reported having to wait sometimes up to three hours to get their test. In Orlando, the Orange County Convention Center’s testing site was also packed as people tried to get tested before heading out to see family and friends.

The same long lines occurred before the Thanksgiving holiday. Then, when people returned from their travels after Thanksgiving, the lines were long once again. In the last week or so, testing sites have begun to see those lines increase for a third time with Christmas right around the corner.

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While the CDC does recommend people get tested if they need to travel, it isn’t their top recommendation. Just like they did during the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC is recommending people avoid traveling, gathering in large groups and practicing extra caution during Christmas. 

With cases rising across the U.S., the concern is that more people traveling will increase those case numbers, doing more harm than good.

Experts are also still waiting to see how much of an impact the Thanksgiving holiday travel actually had on case numbers. There often is a delay in people showing symptoms, and combined with the time it takes to actually get those test results back, there is no final conclusion on how much travel contributed to the rise in cases.

With case numbers increasing across the nation, experts believe the best thing to do would be to not travel and follow CDC guidelines for the holiday season. 

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If you still must travel over the holidays, the CDC recommends getting tested one to three days before you head to your destination. Keep in mind that state-run testing sites across the Bay Area will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.