Drive-through COVID testing event in Harrisonburg sees major backup

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:48 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Hillandale Park in Harrisonburg was backed up all the way to South High Street Tuesday, and ended with some people being turned away without a test once the site reached its capacity.

“I never expected this to happen, a line like that, but I guess everybody wants to get tested and there was a whole bunch behind me that didn’t get a test either and I waited about an hour in line,” said Larry Kaufman, a Rockingham County resident who was unable to get tested after waiting in the line.

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, the demand for COVID-19 testing has gone through the roof. On Monday, the Virginia Department of Health provided members of the media with an update on its COVID efforts to increase testing across the state.

VDH recommends that anyone who has been in close contact with a positive COVID case should get tested five to seven days later, regardless of vaccination status.

However, VDH says because of the lack of tests available, not everyone who is exposed to a positive COVID case needs to be tested.

“People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three months, as long as you don’t have new symptoms you do not need testing,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, VDH Deputy Director of the Office of Epidemiology.

You can check out VDH’s full recommendations for who should get a COVID test here.

With the high demand for COVID-19 tests, VDH says there is a limited supply of rapid antigen COVID tests, and the supply will likely be strained for the near future. The health department encourages the use of more PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that involve a nose swab and are more readily available.

“We would ask people to consider PCR testing if immediate test results are really not needed, PCR results can take a couple of days to be processed so if you don’t need that immediate test result PCR testing is a good option,” said Forlano.

VDH has a total of 51 community testing events scheduled across the state this week and is working on a number of programs to get tests into higher-risk settings.

“We’ve established a process to provide a variety of point apparent at-home self-testing kits to more high-risk settings like jails, prisons, homeless shelters, nursing facilities, K-12 schools, federally qualified health centers, and rural health clinics,” said Forlano.

People in rural areas like Page and Shenandoah Counties have also had a harder time accessing COVID tests, and VDH says it’s working on strategies to change that.

“In some rural areas we’ve tried to push out test kits through our library program, people can find a participating library online. We definitely understand that transportation is an issue in rural areas so hopefully, some of these programs will help alleviate that,” said Forlano.

VDH is also hoping to increase testing in public schools with its ‘Test to Stay’ Program, which is set to launch in some schools in the next two weeks.

“It’s a practice that consists of contact tracing and serial or repeat testing that will allow a school associated close contact to continue to attend school during what would have been their quarantine period,” said Forlano.

For those turned away from Tuesday’s testing event in Harrisonburg, the Central Shenandoah Health District will hold another drive-through testing event at Hillandale Park Thursday, Jan. 6 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

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