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Long lines form as people get tested for COVID-19 following holiday weekend

Long lines formed at local testing clinics, including one in Portsmouth Monday, to help people get better access to a COVID-19 test.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Christmas is over, but now it's time for the New Year celebrations, which means people all over Hampton Roads are looking to get tested for COVID-19. 

People formed a long line at a pop-up clinic at Portsmouth's Fourth Baptist Church. 

James Mateen says he stayed with his immediate family for Christmas. Despite recently getting his booster and showing no symptoms, he says he didn't want to take the risk.

"Well last year, we didn't have much of a celebration, so this year, we tried to get it done a little bit," said Mateen who stood in line for a test in Portsmouth with his family. "I just want to make sure since the holiday came that I'm still good to go."

One woman says she traveled from Indiana to visit her children. She says she recently tested negative for the virus, but it became a family affair as other members of her family also showed up to get a test.

"Well, you need to know and you need to be certain, so you're not spreading it and...trying to stay healthy, so you got to keep up on it," she said.

Virginia Department of Health Chief Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Parham Jaberi, says it's good to check for COVID-19 after gathering with family members, especially if you're not vaccinated.

"Generally, five to seven days after that exposure is when we recommend you get tested," said Dr. Jaberi. "Now, if you're symptomatic, all bets are off. Even if you're vaccinated or unvaccinated, if you feel you have COVID symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible."

Dr. Jaberi says as the omicron variant begins to surge, he and his team are working on expanding testing capabilities in Hampton Roads.

"I think what this is telling us is really is that cases are rising and there's a huge demand and I certainly think we can look more into how the state can help support more community testing events," said Jaberi. "We've been having conversations regarding another potential site in Norfolk outside of the Military Circle Mall where individuals from the community can go get tested."

Jaberi says with the potential rise in COVID-19 cases in the next few weeks, he expects the rush for tests to continue well into the new year. He says while testing is important, the best line of defense in the fight against the virus is getting vaccinated.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but let's keep our fingers crossed," said Jaberi. "Where we can do something about it, such as getting vaccinated, I hope our residents do take advantage of that."

Jaberi says the Military Circle Mall hosts its mass testing clinic each Monday starting at 2 p.m.

He says his team is working with state officials to expand testing availability in the Hampton Roads region.

You can find a COVID-19 testing location on the VDH's website.

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