RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Nearly 6,000 people were tested for COVID-19 at the PNC Arena on New Year’s Eve.
The testing location opened Friday at 7 a.m. with hundreds of cars lined up at least one block away in both directions from the arena.
Those in line told CBS 17 they waited in lines for more than one hour. It was the only option for most.
“CVS in my neighborhood was booked. No other place had any bookings,” Donna Ellis said while waiting in line.
MAKO Medical is operating the testing site.
Five days ago, Wake County Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reached out to Mako Medical about setting up a mass drive-through testing clinic in Raleigh.
“We want to make sure we get as many people through as quickly and painless as possible,” Daniel Watkins said, a manager at MAKO Medical.
It was an all-hands-on-deck approach for MAKO Medical. Approximately 40 employees worked the six lanes of testing at the arena.
Watkins said they have plenty of test kits. Staffing to administer tests can be a challenge.
“We have an instrument capacity to run 150,000 tests per day. But we need the staff in the lab, and we need the staffing on the front end. That’s the biggest bottleneck. We have a warehouse with millions of test kits. We have supplies. We have reserves. We have lab capacity. The biggest thing now is staffing,” Watkins said.
Some MAKO staffers that usually test at nursing homes were rerouted to PNC Arena to help out.
Earlier this week CBS 17’s Justin Moore sent a list of questions to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
One of the questions was if test kits or manpower were the reason for long lines?
In an email, NCDHHS officials said “the state-contracted vendors have ample capacity to meet needs.”
Wake County will have various testing sites open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on New Year’s Day, that CBS 17 is working to confirm, and then will resume will all locations reopening on Monday at 7 a.m.
Testing will continue at the arena on weekdays from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the entire month of January.
For more information and pre-registration go to www.pncarena.com/events/covidtesting.