Long Lines for COVID-19 Tests as Positivity Rate Spikes

Some people are waiting hours in order to get a rapid PCR test

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Since last week, Massachusetts has been seeing long lines and people waiting hours to get a COVID-19 test.

That was what happened in Randolph on Monday, the busiest testing day since the start of the pandemic. Sites like the one in Salem don't require an appointment and are first-come, first-serve.

These sites offer the PCR test, the one that detects virus DNA and can detect COVID even if there aren't any symptoms.

People lined up in Salem two hours before the testing site opened Tuesday dressed in layers due to the frigid temperatures. The line was already several blocks long when the site opened at 9 a.m.

"I was recently traveling, so I came back and felt kind of sick. The symptoms are cold-like, so it's very, like, you don't know," said Quinn Field as he waited in line Tuesday.

"I got here yesterday, and it was a 3-1/2 hour wait," said Leon McCarthy. "It's a bummer, but I need the test to go back to school."

The state does offer free, at-home PCR tests through But you have to wait a week between the time you order the kit and receive the results.

Long lines formed across Massachusetts as people waited hours to be tested for COVID-19.

The immediate result is one reason people are willing to wait in line for several hours, especially if they need them in order to travel.

"Other sites were closed or by appointment only, and they didn't have appointments for weeks," said Halima Blackman, who said she waited in line Monday because she needed a PCR test to catch a flight out of Boston.

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