COVID-19 tests getting harder to find as holiday gatherings draw closer

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With so many people looking to get tested for COVID-19 before seeing loved ones for the holidays, you might be wondering where the available tests are. It may be hard to get a scheduled COVID-19 test at a pharmacy right now or find a rapid test there, but there is plenty of availability at the community drive through test sites.

Patrick Leonardo, AMR Operations Manager for Western Mass, told 22News, “There’s a lot of COVID-19 and flu going around so the big unknown factor is: do I have a cold, do I have the flu, or do I have COVID-19?”

If you go to community sites like the ones in Chicopee, Westfield or at the Eastfield Mall, there’s no appointment needed. Although, you may have to deal with longer lines because of the increase in people wanting to test before the holidays and the uptick in COVID-19 cases that we’re seeing right now.

“We’ve gone from just under a thousand tests a day pre-thanksgiving to now doing almost 1,500 tests a day, nearing almost 2,000 now,” Leonardo said.

Governor Baker says the state is averaging 100,000 tests a day. Wait times at the Eastfield Mall is 15 minutes to an hour. It could be faster if people pre-register using the QR code at the site, but their test results are still coming back the next day.

At the Eastfield Mall, if you come in and you’re symptomatic you’ll be getting a 15 minute rapid test but if you’re asymptomatic you’ll be getting a PCR test because it is more sensitive and can better detect asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. Leonardo told 22News why it’s so important to get tested before the holidays.

“Somebody who’s having a large gathering should come get a PCR test,” Leonardo said. “That would just give you peace of mind to confirm that you’re currently not carrying the virus and you’re not going to spread it amongst family members that will be more vulnerable.”

If you’ve been exposed to the virus, wait three to five days after before testing, unless you develop symptoms sooner. You can find a testing location near you on the Mass.gov website.

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