COVID Testing Backlog Ahead of Thanksgiving Impacting People Without Holiday Plans

Some people who need coronavirus tests have had to wait as large lines form ahead of Thanksgiving

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Long lines and booked-up appointments for coronavirus tests ahead of Thanksgiving are having a big impact on those who do not have holiday plans, but desperately need a test.

The line outside Tufts Medical Center in Boston Thursday morning wrapped around two buildings. Some of those waiting to get tested were in line for more than two hours in 30-degree temperatures.

"We want to see the grandkids for Thanksgiving, and we can't see the grandkids if we don't get tested," Nick Bogard said.

The spike in demand from those looking to get a test before Thanksgiving has those who need a test due to symptoms or exposure waiting a lot longer.

Sparsha Pun was in line to get tested after someone at a birthday party he attended tested positive. He does not want to return to his job coaching children until he gets his results, but he said finding a place to get tested was difficult.

"I tried five different places before I got in this line, and none of them had any open spots or appointments," Pun said.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have open slots for testing, but when NBC10 Boston typed in multiple zip codes to book an appointment online, none of them had availability for the next three days.

Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, a Democrat in the 1st Hampshire District, said it is already delaying the reopening of some businesses in western Massachusetts as they wait for employee test results.

"We have businesses that have been waiting three, four, five and six days, completely and totally shut down, which means putting people back on unemployment and not being able to make rent as they wait for test results," Sabadosa said.

Dr. Michael Misialek, a pathologist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, said it can also have a huge impact on contact tracing.

"Patients could have new exposures in the time that they are waiting for their test results to come back so those results could be invalid by the time they actually receive them," Misialek said.

Public health experts predict lines will be long after the holiday, as well, and recommend booking a post-Thanksgiving appointment as soon as possible.

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