In the week between Christmas and New Year's, expect to see long lines of people waiting to get tested for COVID-19.
As cases caused by the omicron variant continue to spread, COVID-19 testing sites are getting bombarded. At-home COVID-19 tests have been difficult to come by in the Bay Area for more than a week now and available slots at testing sites are filling up as well. Several Bay Area testing sites told NBC Bay Area Monday that the demand for COVID-19 tests in this holiday period is greater than they've seen in months.
Alameda County Health Care Services said if you gathered with others over the holiday weekend or traveled or think there was a chance you were exposed to COVID-19, you should get tested within three to five days.
Charles Reppe, clinical director at City Health, said demand for tests is through the roof and has been for weeks. City Health has COVID-19 testing sites throughout the Bay Area.
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"It is approaching the early pandemic levels actually," he said. "Not quite as bad. Fortunately, people aren’t coming in as sick."
City Health, like many other sites, said it will take walk-ins for testing if they have room.
"We can’t guarantee it because we give preference to the people with appointments, but we do everything possible," Reppe said.
On Monday at the City Health site in Dublin, the line for testing stretched through the parking lot. City Health, like many testing providers NBC Bay Area spoke with Monday, said it is looking to hire additional staff to meet this crush of new interest in testing.
In the meantime, you may have to do some digging to find an appointment or be willing to wait.
Many COVID-19 testing sites shared with NBC Bay Area Monday that they also recommend making an appointment. Contra Costa County Health Services told NBC Bay Area Monday that because of the increased demand, appointments are now required at its two testing sites in Richmond and San Ramon until further notice. A spokesperson noted that while CCHS appointments are filling up quickly, there are a few available early next week in Richmond.
Many county websites provide information about COVID-19 testing appointments nearby, check with your county to learn more. The state of California also offers information about local testing sites.
If you're struggling to find a test appointment, you might want to check with your doctor, state-run COVID-19 testing sites, community health care providers, or local pharmacies to see if they have any appointments available.
Contra Costa County said it is trying to increase testing capacity and expects the state to help out this week to increase the number of tests available. The county handed out 14,000 free antigen home-test kits last week and expects another shipment of 14,000 test kits from the state this week "which will also be distributed promptly."
For hours on Monday, the line for COVID-19 testing at the Newark Bay Area Community Health site snaked through a school parking lot and around the block. Staff at the site mentioned that they can administer as many as 300 tests on a given day and that they take walk-ins when they can.
This Newark testing site is listed among the free, public testing sites on Alameda County Health Service Agency's calendar
If you're struggling to find a test appointment, you might want to check with your doctor, state-run COVID-19 testing sites, community health care providers, and local pharmacies to see if they have any appointments available.
This Newark testing site is listed among the free, public testing sites on Alameda County Health Care Services Agency's calendar.
"Residents who gathered or traveled this holiday weekend, or are concerned they were exposed should get tested 3-5 days afterwards," said a spokesperson for Alameda County Health Care Services Agency on Monday. "If they test positive, are symptomatic, or are unvaccinated and have been exposed, they should stay home."