BOSTON (WHDH) - The rush to get tested for the coronavirus after the holidays is causing long lines at testing facilities across Massachusetts, with hours-long waits in freezing temperatures.
People waited in the cold at facilities in Boston, Cambridge, Randolph, and Worcester to find out their status before heading back to work or school.
“If they didn’t have Covid, they have it now, because we’re standing here about four hours,” said one woman in line.
“They should put heating lamps out here! On a cold day like this, it’s not good to be standing out here for two and a half hours,” said George Lepke.
Cars waited for hours in line at mass testing sites while people stood in lengthy lines of their own in Boston. A new testing site just opened at the West End House in Allston and Mayor Michelle Wu said the city is trying to create more sites, but the director of the Public Health Commission said staffing is also a problem.
“We’re going be working with our community health centers to help capacitate them because part of the problem is staffing at those community health centers,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu. “We’re talking about diverting people to open spots that are at nearby community health centers, putting up out a tent or multiple tents.”
In a statement, the Boston Public Health Commission said is reaching out to The Reggie Lewis Center, along with other potential sites around the city as well as working with community partners to increase testing capacity at community health centers and other neighborhood venues.
In Cambridge, classes won’t resume until Wednesday so students can have time to get tested. It is not required but parents were strongly encouraged to bring their children to testing sites.
“I just want it to be kind of over with, but I mean, I guess it’s a good thing,” said Reannan Donofrio, a parent of a third-grade student. “We gotta keep the kids getting tested because they’re the ones that are going out the most.”
“I feel safe doing this and it is a hassle,” said Barbara Omere as she waited in line to get tested. “I don’t even know how they could’ve made it even a little more simpler but it’s a hassle.”
While parents hope their children receive a negative test, Tufts Medical Center Epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron says parents should not have to worry too much because the omicron variant produces less severe symptoms compared to prior strains.
“It is less risky to them than the flu was. It is less risky to them than some things that they did like swimming in the ocean or driving in a car,” she said. “I have kids in school and I feel totally comfortable with it.”
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