ATLANTA - Finding a COVID-19 testing site that does not have long lines can be a bit of a challenge right now.
If you develop symptoms or are exposed to someone with the novel coronavirus, experts recommend getting swabbed for the virus.
But, as cases surge, so has demand for testing.
So, how can you find a test quickly, skipping the long lines?
Dr. Audrey Arona, director of Gwinnett Newton Rockdale Health District in Georgia, recommends checking with your local health department, to see what testing sites are in your area.
The Georgia Department of Public Health has COVID-19 Hotline at 844-442-2681.
"We have noticed a huge increase in demand all over the state, and our county is no exception," Arona says. "So, a lot of people are flooding to be tested and are concerned. Our testing sites by appointment get filled up very soon."
Gwinnett is performing about 1,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests a day, but their lines, Arona says, move pretty quickly.
"Our wait times are none because we go strictly by appointments," she says. "We tried to open up to non-appointments, just come and get a test, last week, and it was pretty much a disaster."
Arona recommends trying to get an appointment, even if you have to wait a couple of days to get in and get tested.
By scheduling appointments, she says, her testing teams are able to have all the paperwork ready to go ahead of time.
So all you have to do is show up at your scheduled time and get swabbed.
Another important thing to know?
You don’t have to get tested in your county; you can go anywhere.
"Anyone can come here," she says. "In fact, we get people from North Carolina."
Arona says the health department isn't the only game in town when it comes to testing.
She recommends googling testing sites in your area to give you an idea of your options.
Testings options in the metro Atlanta area and Georgia include:
- Urgent care clinics, which typically require a curbside or virtual visit first
- Select CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Walmart stores
- Hospitals, which offer community testing
- Mobile/walk-up testing sites organized by groups like CORE Response
But the real wait right now isn't in line to get tested; it's getting your test results back.
The labs that process the tests have been flooded for the last few weeks.
"Pretty much not just our district, but all over the state and nationwide, too, there is a problem with testing capacity right now at the lab level," Arona says. "So, because of the influx of so many people desiring tests, the labs are all overloaded right now."
Right now, Arona says, people in Gwinnett County are waiting an average of seven to 10 days for their test results.
That is about the average wait time for most local counties.
If you're symptomatic and waiting on your test results, she says, stay home and self-isolate, limiting contact with others in your home, until you get your results.
If you were exposed, but have no symptoms, wear a mask until you know if you are negative or positive for the virus.
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