Long lines form outside Charlottesville church for free COVID-19 testing

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 11:46 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With coronavirus cases on the rise, one of the hottest items on this year’s holiday list is a COVID-19 test.

Hundreds took advantage of UVA Health’s weekly testing clinic at a Charlottesville church Tuesday, December 28.

From South 1st Street to the parking lot of Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, lines of cars and people waited for tests.

“People just want to know that they’re safe,” Cecelia Magargee, operations manager for the community testing, said.

That desire for an answer, in the form of a positive or negative test, had people lined up since 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, about two hours before testing began

Magargee said the testing opportunity is intended for those who need it most: “We’d love for this to be an opportunity for people who are really, really concerned,” she said. “They’re testing positive, need-to-get-to work, need-to-get to school. So if you’re not seeing a lot of people, you can just wait to see if you’re symptomatic for a couple of days. Stay out of the way, wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, do the right thing for the community.”

The site is run by volunteers, from registers to testers, and they’re seeing a familiar sight.

“With the omicron crush it’s slightly more busy, but not much,” UVA Health Internist Dr. Mo Nadkarni said. “But we had to turn away hundreds of cars, for instance, Monday at [Church of the Incarnation]. We only had about 200 tests per night.”

While Nadkarni says testing is important, he adds there’s one more thing everyone can do to help in the battle with COVID-19: “Clearly, people are tiring under the strain of taking care of folks. We really want people to be vaccinated,” the doctor said. “So many of the folks that we see on ventilators or dying in the hospital are those who are unvaccinated.”

UVA Health’s weekly COVID-19 testing clinics continue next week. For more information, click here.

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