Days before Thanksgiving, long lines reported at some Maryland COVID-19 testing sites

Many coronavirus testing sites in Maryland are extra busy as the virus spreads and Thanksgiving draws closer.

“There are some long lines,” Jon Weinstein, director of Maryland’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force, said Monday. “A lot of folks who are not heeding advice to stay home for Thanksgiving and are planning to travel, or have been for the last few days, are getting tests.”

Weinstein said everyone who needs a test should get a test. That includes people with symptoms, people who suspect they’ve been exposed to the virus, people at high risk of exposure such as health care and grocery store workers, people who have been in large gatherings and people who have recently traveled.

Weinstein said it’s “problematic” to try to get tested before Thanksgiving so you can see loved ones for the holiday because as soon as you get tested, you need to self-isolate.

“You should be basically quarantining. The next people you should see are the people you are planning to travel to see,” Weinstein said. “The test result is only good the day you take it. If you’re out doing things that expose you to the virus, then it doesn’t matter that you were negative on Thursday, if Friday, Saturday, Sunday you were with folks not wearing a mask, or in a larger gathering.”

What if you can’t quarantine before traveling?

“Then take as many precautions as possible to protect yourself and the people that you’re going to see,” Weinstein said.

On average, results from tests done at state-run sites have been coming back in two to three days, with some occasionally taking as long as four or five days. And as more people get tested, that wait-time may grow.

“With the number of tests that are occurring, there could be an increase in the time to get results. We went in just a couple week period from about 24,000 tests [per day] to 51,000 tests,” Weinstein said.

Many Maryland testing sites have reduced schedules this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but going forward, look for things to go in the opposite direction.

“For sure we’re looking to expand hours, and then even within the hours that we are operating in some of these facilities, we’re trying to expand staff, so that the capacity of a specific site would increase,” Weinstein said.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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