Gastonia, NC – People were lining up as early as 3 a.m. to get tested for COVID-19 in Charlotte, but now even testing centers that normally don’t have lines are overcrowded.
Two weeks ago, the line to the Gastonia Starmed location was non-existent. As of Wednesday morning, the line stretched across Walnut Avenue behind the Gaston County Courthouse.
A woman told Channel 9 it took her two hours to get tested, a significantly shorter wait time than the lines in Charlotte, especially the Tuckaseegee location in West Charlotte .
Someone told Channel 9’s Ken Lemon that he had waited two hours at the West Charlotte location and had not moved.
Another person seeking to be tested saw their car battery die in line. Once his battery was on, he got back on line.
StarMed is running out of supplies at some of its sites, but officials say they are ready to continue restocking their test sites.
StarMed’s Northside Baptist Church and South Boulevard testing centers are closed Wednesday.
More vendors step up efforts as demand for COVID testing skyrockets
Dozens of people hoping to get tested for COVID-19 lined up their cars and trucks in the dark before dawn on Tuesday morning, hours before testing sites opened.
The long lines come as North Carolina’s percentage of positivity rates skyrocket, reaching 29.7% on Tuesday – the highest since the start of the pandemic.
“I just wish we had more ways to get tested,” Trey Mallory said. “You know, Charlotte is tall.”
Mallory was back online at the StarMed site in Tuckaseegee on Tuesday, hoping authorities would no longer deny him.
“One, two, three, four referral codes,” he told Channel 9.
Barely returned from vacation with a pregnant girlfriend at home, Mallory said he tried four sites in three days.
“They were overwhelmed with the queues, the parking lots were crazy,” he said.
It’s a story we’ve heard too often as demand soars. After weeks of worry, other providers are expanding access.
Atrium Health this week launched a community testing site along Beam Road near the airport. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You don’t need an appointment and you don’t need to be patient.
Others are also ramping up, including One Love Periodic Services off Albemarle Road in east Charlotte. The clinic focuses primarily on mental health, but executive director Troy Veale has said he wants to help.
One Love has swabs but specializes in cheek swabs, which Veale says are less invasive.
“It’s easy, it doesn’t take long to do and it’s just as effective as a nasal swab,” Veale told Channel 9.
COVID testing is free and you don’t need an appointment. Just enter Monday through Friday, like Dominic Lindsay did after seeing a sign in the parking lot.
He told Channel 9 his wait time was only 30 minutes.
“I can’t beat that, bro,” Lindsay said.
He told Channel 9 he was preparing to see his family and was grateful that other places are now helping to get through such a difficult time.
“They’re at least trying, you know, to help these other places that are overwhelmed and trying to make sure we’re all safe,” Lindsay said.
You can skip the long lines – if you’re willing to pay
Long queues at COVID testing sites are expected in the coming days and weeks, but there are ways around the long wait times.
If you need a free test and have time to queue, you can visit one of StarMed’s many sites, but there are other options if you’re willing to pay out of pocket.
Avant Pharmacy in South East Charlotte currently has testing. They will set you back $ 129 for a PCR and $ 70 for a quick test.
If you’re willing to pay, you’re guaranteed a date and won’t have to queue. The pharmacy said patients can use the HSA and FSA cards to cover the costs or submit the costs to insurance for reimbursement later.
Avant’s strategic director Dr Saswat Kabisatpathy told Channel 9 that it’s easier for small pharmacies to provide tests at a cash rate.
“There’s just a big demand right now, just trying to do these tests, a lot of pharmacies are just trying to make sure the tests are accessible and trying to make sure they can get them at a reasonable price.” , did he declare.
People without insurance should always go to free test sites.
(SEE BELOW: local pharmacies offer vaccines, COVID-19 tests)
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