covid-19 testing

Holiday and Omicron Drive Up COVID Test Demand

The line at Neighborhood Medical Center in North Dallas formed early as people flocked to get COVID tests

NBCUniversal, Inc.

If you wanted a COVID test on this Monday after Christmas, chances are you waited in a long line to get one.

"We're seeing a huge jump in numbers," Neighborhood Medical Center CEO Alyssa McElya said. "We're seeing a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people come in. You know, those that are unvaccinated are definitely having more severe symptoms."

McElya said the wait for a COVID test is about 3 1/2 hours. Neighborhood Medical Center is seeing between 700 and 800 people a day. Compare that to 40-50 people a day before the latest spike.

"Especially during the holidays when everyone wants to spend time with loved ones, and friends, and family," McElya said. "It's a little difficult when everyone is unsure about their status; if they have it, if they don't, if they've been exposed, all that kind of stuff."

McElya said the holidays and the Omicron variant seem to be driving the recent testing surge. For those who work on the testing side, it feels like deja vu.

"People start to forget about the severity and what's happened," McElya said. "It's impossible for us to forget because we're on the frontline every day with it."

McElya said she had 4 employees quit just before Christmas. Like many businesses, it's been hard to keep enough staff.

"I'm very concerned about staffing. We are literally pushed to our brink. I mean, we are exhausted," McElya said, explaining they are open 7-days a week. "We've upped our pay multiple times to try to help with that. It's just the sheer volume of what we're trying to do and how we're trying to help people. It's overwhelming."

McElya said Neighborhood Medical Center has hired new people, and is trying to get them trained as quickly as possible.

"We just need to keep on keepin' on," McElya said.

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