RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — For those hoping to get a post-Christmas or pre-New Year’s Eve COVID-19 test the wait could be several days in Wake County.
The Wake County Health Department just resumed their testing after taking a break for Christmas and appointments are booking up quickly.
If you want to make an appointment online or over the phone (1-888-675-4567), you won’t be able to get one at most testing locations until Tuesday, Wednesday, or depending on how long you wait to schedule, possibly even later in the week.
According to the health department’s website, as of Monday morning, no appointments were available until Tuesday afternoon at county testing locations in Raleigh, Zebulon, or Wake Forest. One Raleigh location didn’t have any open appointments until Wednesday.
For those who live in Fuquay-Varina or want to go there to get tested, you can do so on Monday but not until the end of the day.
The appointment backlog comes after the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) had to step in last Thursday and Friday to help with the massive demand for COVID testing before Christmas.
Despite having appointments, lines late last week wrapped around buildings and down the roads outside testing locations, and it took some people more than two hours to get through the line to get their test.
The long lines and long wait times were still present even after the health department doubled their testing availability to make sure they could complete 13,000 tests across all five sites in order to keep up with the demand.
Officials expect more appointment requests over the coming weeks as people return from their holiday travels and gatherings and as the omicron variant continues to rapidly spread.
Some of those who were waiting in line for a test on Monday morning in Raleigh said travel is why they were there.
“We had a family gathering and I just want to make sure I’m safe,” said Kristi Vercoe.
For some people waiting in line, getting these tests meant they could hop on a plane internationally.
“There are travel restrictions to get into Aruba so here we are,” said David Rowe.
“I’m due to fly back to England today at midday,” said Rachel Woodhouse. “I’m a bit nervous today. I really, really want to get back.”
Woodhouse was visiting her sister for Christmas. Now she’s worried she won’t be able to get back home.
“We have 24 hours to take our test before we fly back to the UK. I’m still waiting for the results. If they don’t come in, I’m going to have to get another flight, so it’s a bit stressful,” explained Woodhouse.
She took a PCR test at a pharmacy on Sunday but still hasn’t gotten the results back.
Woodhouse told CBS 17 she hopes that the test from the health department will help her get home sooner.
“You guys don’t have a 24-hour rapid guaranteed testing system like we do in the UK,” she said. “At home, we pay for it and it’s guaranteed results so we don’t go through this.”
If you can’t get an appointment through the health department you can try to find a take-home test – but they have been hard to come by.
You can also request a free test from Labcorp and NCDHHS that will be shipped to your home.
There are also other options where you can get tested for free, such as heading over to a pharmacy or going to a community testing event.