Hundreds Wait in Line for COVID Testing in Salem Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday

The demand for COVID-19 testing has been up significantly ahead of Thanksgiving, even though people have been urged not to travel or gather together to celebrate.

NBC Universal, Inc.

As Massachusetts hit another milestone Sunday, with the state passing 200,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, hundreds waited in line in Salem to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The demand for testing has been up significantly ahead of Thursday's holiday, even though people have been urged not to travel or gather together to celebrate.

About 700 Salem residents came out for free testing on Sunday, where some people waited for more than an hour at the Salem Willows.

The drive-up site will be there from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. through Tuesday. Residents don’t have to have symptoms of the virus but they do have to show proof of Salem residency.

There are two additional testing sites in Salem, as well. One is at the Old Town Hall, and the other is at the high school.

“It’s huge. I waited two hours in Salem last week at the high school for it,” Salem resident Lee Faneuf said of the line. 

The city decided to open the third site at Salem Willows right before Thanksgiving due to the high demand.

Salem COVID coordinator Kimberly Waller said she thinks people were happy they weren't turned away Sunday, given that all over the state lines were closing after being overwhelmed.

“I think people are happy that they’re not getting turned away. We haven’t turned anyone away, we’ve taken everybody, and we’re going to hit around 700 people," Waller said. "All over the state the lines are being overwhelmed and closing so because of that we put this together in the last few days just to add three extra days of testing.” 

The city says they’re trying to make sure everyone who wants a test can get a test.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging people not to gather for Thanksgiving, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has said the same, even if people have a negative test.

Dr. Mark Siedner, of Massachusetts General Hospital's infectious disease division, warns that traveling during the pandemic could put people at risk of contracting the coronavirus this holiday season.
Contact Us