‘I feel really discouraged’: Hundreds pack COVID-19 testing event

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 3:50 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2021 at 4:03 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Hundreds waited in line Tuesday morning to get a COVID-19 test, which is in short supply after the Christmas holiday.

The Richmond & Henrico Health District (RHHD) held its first testing event this week at Second Baptist Church off Broad Rock Boulevard on Tuesday.

If you were one of nearly 300 people to get swabbed - consider yourself lucky! Hundreds of people waited in line for hours, only to get turned away due to a time constraint, according to RHHD.

“They don’t have any more kits,” said one volunteer.

That message was relayed to numerous drivers about an hour and a half into the event. It’s a phrase many folks, like Frances Aida, did not want to hear.

“I feel really discouraged that I can’t seem to get a test anywhere in Richmond right now,” Aida said.

While Aida was proactive in getting tested before Christmas, she said she started developing symptoms a few days ago.

“I have a 2-year-old at home, and he obviously can’t get vaccinated,” Aida said. “I’m isolating as much as I can, but it’s really hard to not even be able to find a test.”

That is the dilemma many are facing right now. It’s why the COVID-19 testing event by the RHHD had drivers lining Broad Rock Boulevard for a solid two-plus hours.

NBC12 reached out to RHHD regarding the message of tests running out. According to RHHD spokeswoman, Cat Long, that was not the case, rather the clinic had to end on time due to a time constraint. According to one of the volunteers also turning drivers away, there was a scheduled funeral at the church.

Meanwhile, the church trustee chairperson said the pastor of the church asked for the testing to continue due to the crowd size.

“It did surprise me to see the line when we got here at 8:30,” said Mark Hagemann. “It really pressed just how bad things are right now.”

“I think it speaks volumes both in terms of our community transmission, and then also how intentional our communities are at wanting to protect themselves and each other,” said RHHD spokeswoman Cat Long.

The Virginia Department of Health reported a 7-day positivity rate of 15.9% overnight. That spike is a concern for health leaders and those in the community, especially after holiday gatherings.

“There should be testing for everyone available during holiday travel,” said Lark Washington. “We’ve been going to multiple pharmacies trying to get tests and everywhere it’s sold out.”

“We’ve put in orders to get more at-home tests in our hands,” Long said. “We’re expecting the situation of accessing a test to get much easier by the end of this week and early next week.”

The Richmond Henrico Health District does have another testing event on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center (1440 N. Laburnum Ave). The team will have roughly 500 tests, and it is first come first serve.

Long added with more tests becoming available in the future, she suggests families pick up a couple of kits from local pharmacies to keep stored away in case they’re needed in the future.

Additionally, RHHD is urging those with symptoms and exposure to a COVID-19 positive person to utilize the community testing events, as opposed to community members without symptoms or those wanting to get tested for other reasons.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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