NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the state will be getting nine new COVID-19 testing centers, thanks to a $5 million grant from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
Two of the centers will be in Hampton Roads -- one in Norfolk, and the other in Newport News. The centers will offer PCR tests, not rapid COVID-19 tests.
In Thursday's announcement, Northam said "As Virginians continue to grapple with a national shortage of rapid tests, expanding our PCR capabilities will ensure more Virginians have access to free, reliable testing and can better protect themselves and their families.”
Since the last few days of December, Hampton Roads residents have waited in long lines for a chance to get tested. The difficulty finding rapid tests, and worker shortages among people who run the testing clinics, meant sometimes these lines were hours long.
The new centers will be at or near VDH centers where people are already coming to get COVID-19 vaccines.
"These new testing centers are expected to administer more than 50,000 tests in the month of January," Northam's office wrote. "Each of the nine sites will operate between 4-6 days per week and will be open from 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., depending on the location."
The program will start with money from the state health department's grant, but Northam said Virginia has reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get reimbursed and to keep the sites going.
There's no word yet on what day the testing clinics in Norfolk and Newport News will kick off. Northam's announcement said it would be "in the coming weeks."