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'We’re very concerned with where this may be going': Long lines again at COVID testing sites ahead of Christmas gatherings

Health leaders in Dallas and Tarrant County told WFAA that the demand for COVID testing has increased since the Thanksgiving holiday.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — At the COVID testing site along Decatur Avenue and 28th Street in Fort Worth, people waited in long lines Monday to find out if they have COVID.

If the long lines seem like a familiar sight, they are. People are, once again, rushing to get tested for COVID as the Omicron variant spreads and holiday gathering approach.

Dr. Kenton Murthy, Deputy Medical Director and Deputy Local Health Authority for Tarrant County Public Health, said they anticipate COVID cases will continue to increase after the holidays.

“We’ve seen just a steady demand for our testing,” Murthy said.

Currently, Tarrant County’s community spread level is high. The county’s positivity rate is climbing, too. Monday, it was slightly above 8%, higher than it was in November, when the positivity rate lingered steadily at around 6%.

RELATED: Hospitalizations in North Texas expected to increase, UT Southwestern analysis says

“The great news is, compared to where we were a year ago, we have a lot more access to testing throughout our county,” Murthy said.

Murthy said that, so far, the county has been able to handle the high demand for testing.

However, some privately-owned testing locations are facing challenges. Yaman Subei, the CEO of Urgentology Care, an urgent care center in Arlington, said the recent surge in demand for testing is causing supply issues for them.

“In the first two weeks of December alone, we have seen more than double the amount of COVID testing than we did during the entire month of November,” Subei said. “We run out of PCR tests, sometimes, a few days before we get the next shipment.”

On Monday, pharmacies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are still an option for those looking to get tested before Christmas. While most CVS Health testing appointments were filled across the Metroplex on Monday, there were still appointments available the rest of the week.

Health leaders told WFAA that the best way to quickly get tested is to check your county’s public health website for a testing location near you.

Dr. Philip Huang, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said there are plans to expand testing availability as demand continues climbing.

“We’re very concerned with where this may be going,” Huang said. “We know that Omicron is present in the community, but what’s alarming is just how rapidly it seems to spread. 

"We need to learn from the past, and there are things we can do that don't just shut things down," he added. "The vaccines are very important, the boosters, and assessing individual risk status.”

Huang said what happens over the next couple of months will depend on how the community responds.

Dallas County Health and Human Services has a list of COVID testing locations. Tarrant County Public Health also recommends viewing their list of testing sites to find the location closest to you.

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