WebMD News Brief

Hardest-Hit States See Long COVID-19 Testing Lines

June 29, 2020 -- In states with the highest surges in new coronavirus cases, such as Arizona, Florida and Texas, the testing lines are often long and sometimes unruly, according The New York Times.

In some areas, people seeking tests for COVID-19 are being turned away as locations reach capacity, the newspaper reported. Social distancing isn’t often enforced, and hours-long waits in the summer heat can build tension among the people in line.

Two sites at Houston stadiums hit capacity hours after opening. “JUST IN: Our Delmar Stadium #COVID19 testing site reached capacity for June 27,” the Houston Health Department wrote in a Twitter post at noon on Saturday.

On Sunday, the number of COVID-19 cases passed 10 million, with the U.S. at more than 2,535,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global deaths also ticked past 500,000 with the U.S. making up a quarter of the total with more than 125,000 deaths.

More than 42,000 cases were reported across the country on Saturday. It was the third consecutive day of more than 40,000 cases. Florida, Nevada and South Carolina reported single-day records.

In Orlando, the first person arrived at the Orange County Convention Center testing site on Saturday at 12:30 a.m., according to the Florida Association of Public Information Officers. Testing started at 9 a.m.

“Each day this week the lines have been longer than the previous day,” the association wrote in a Twitter post a few minutes before the testing site opened. “This site can process 200 tests per hour but demand is so great, the wait from the end will be 6-8 hrs.”

In Phoenix, some drive-up testing sites have reported three-mile lines. On Friday, the state’s largest lab received twice as many samples as it could process, according to another report by The New York Times. A testing site at the state fairgrounds opens the phone line for appointments at 7 a.m. Sometimes the line opens with 800 callers already waiting, and all 1,000 daily appointments are gone within minutes.

“We are literally overwhelmed with the numbers required,” Marjorie Bessel, MD, the chief clinical officer at Banner Health, which runs the site, told the newspaper. “The testing is very popular, and very needed, but we don’t have enough of it.”

News outlets in Arizona, Florida and Texas have also posted videos and stories about the long lines and hours-long waits during the past week, according The Washington Post. In Arizona, some people waited 13 hours for a test, and others left after standing in line for hours.

At a Miami Beach site, drivers waited for four hours for a test, according The Miami Herald, which posted a time-lapse video of the miles-long line.

“I drive by there now and again, and I have never seen anything like that,” Dan Gelber, mayor of Miami Beach, told the newspaper. “I think obviously the spike [in cases] has people thinking about this as they should.”

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 29, 2020

Sources

The New York Times: "The Global Death Toll Now Tops 500,000."

Twitter.com/HoustonHealth/

Johns Hopkins University

Twitter.com/FloridaPIOs 

The New York Times: "Arizona ‘Overwhelmed’ With Demand for Tests as U.S. System Shows Strain"

The Washington Post: "As coronavirus cases surge across U.S., some wait hours to be tested in hardest-hit states."

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