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COVID testing in Georgia | Lines growing as demand increases

Witnesses say some are waiting for hours in long lines to get tested for COVID-19. Officials are explaining what may be behind this.

ATLANTA — The demand for COVID-19 testing in the state is rising and, with it, reports of some people waiting in line for hours to get a test.

Over the weekend, a viewer sent 11Alive a video showing a long line of people in their cars, waiting to get tested for COVID-19 in Sandy Springs.

"The lines were long lines, but Sunday was incredible," Maritza Morelli said.

Morelli is the executive director for Los Niños Primero and helped organize that site where she said 900 people were tested. Those tests were free, and no identification was needed. It was all to help the Latino and Hispanic communities there.

Morelli said that, at one point, the wait time was three hours.

"Without a doubt, there is a high demand of these kind of resources to our community," Morelli said.

She said she believed part of the reason for the lines was that no appointments were needed and it was over the weekend.

"On Sunday, many of our families, they don't work," she said.

The testing differs from the 85 CVS drive-thru locations where you do need an appointment.  You also need a form of identification and must answer questions online to qualify for testing at a CVS.

You may have also noticed testing is no longer available at Georgia Tech – but for a good reason, as the summer temperatures climb.

"This is actually a parking lot structure where our colleagues were in full PPE,” Emmanuel Kolady, Senior VP for CVS Health, said. “With the weather turning, it was not practical for us to continue that operation."

CVS said even with moving the Georgia Tech site, it has still expanded testing with new sites in LaGrange and Macon.

"When we first started testing at the beginning of this pandemic here in Georgia, we could only test people who have symptoms and maybe not even all of those,” Dr. Lynn Paxton said. “And, now, we've progressed to the point where basically anyone who wants a test can get a test."

Dr. Paxton, the director of the Fulton County Board of Health, said that because of this, there is a huge demand for COVID-19 tests.

"As the businesses are opening up, there are many employers who are saying, ‘You have to get this test’,” she said. “We have some schools like athletic programs and all that are insisting people get tested."

To get tested for the virus, Dr. Paxton suggested people call to make an appointment ahead of time.

"We've had a lot of complaints about people not being able to get through our call lines,” she said. “So, what we are actually doing with that is moving our call center to a different location so we will have more people available to take those calls.”

The test is free, and while identification is needed, a social security number is not. Dr. Paxton said they are close to full capacity, but will do anything to continue to offer COVID-19 tests.

"We don't want to deter people from getting tested, so we will deal with it,” she said. “We are doing everything that we can to answer this call because it's so important that people get tested."

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