SUFFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health's COVID-19 testing clinic in Suffolk drew long lines of people on Friday.
Darryl Bailey says he's recently had a tough time trying to get tested for COVID-19.
"It's very hard. Very hard," said Bailey.
So when he heard about a free testing clinic at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, he made sure to get there early.
“I think it’s very important because you got a lot of people walking around that probably have it and don’t even know it," he said.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) offered PCR tests at the clinic. Despite the long lines of people, those who came, like Mary Mason, were willing to wait to get checked.
“We can’t get our hands on the rapid tests and so this is the next best thing," she said.
The Commonwealth of Virginia saw a slight dip in new COVID-19 cases Friday, but the numbers remain high. The Virginia Department of Health recorded more than 17,000 new infections, which was nearly 1,700 less than Thursday.
The state's positivity rate is just under 36 percent.
The high case counts mean that COVID-19 tests are a hot commodity.
Mason said at least one person in her family is currently experiencing COVID-19, and she wants to take all precautions.
“I’m going to continue to do my part which is to make sure I am fully vaccinated, which I am, and to continue to test to make sure that I don’t have COVID," she said.
According to VDH, Suffolk recorded more than 2,800 new cases so far in January. Cases across Hampton Roads, the state and the country hit new highs in the new year.
Bailey waited for nearly 90 minutes for his test, but he didn’t mind because he's had his own experience with the virus.
“I have scarred tissue on my lungs right now because of COVID and it’s permanent," said Bailey.
In 2020, he was in the hospital battling COVID-related pneumonia for a week, and it changed the way he looked at coronavirus.
“I was staying safe before. But after I went through what I went through I definitely take extra precautions," he said.
Starting next week, people will be able to request free COVID-19 tests using a federal website. You can learn more here.