Those who’ve been to a COVID-19 testing site this week were likely met with longer lines than normal.
That's because people are rushing to local testing centers to make sure they're clear of infection ahead of the holidays, or they're just cautious about the rapidly spreading omicron variant, the latest variant of concern identified by the CDC.
The demand for COVID-19 tests right now nearly matches the demand this time last year, according to Michael Workman, director of communications for San Diego County. In December 2020, San Diego and much of the world were in the throes of a winter-time coronavirus case surge and didn't have access to vaccines.
On Thursday, hundreds of people lined up at CSU San MArcos to receive a COVID-19 test. The site doesn’t require an appointment, but for other testing sites that do, the county’s website showed appointment availability Thursday and Friday.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
For Zeina Rashid, when her elementary-aged daughter wasn’t feeling well, a COVID-19 test at the CSU San Marcos site became a part of their morning.
“We’ve been very careful this whole time, but right now we’re just being extra careful. Reminding them to keep washing their hands and not touching their face,” Rashid said.
The north county walk-up clinic made it easy for Rebecca Taylor to get the test she needs to see her friend.
“On the table, all the instructions and how to do it,” Taylor said.
For Taylor, a negative COVID-19 test won’t just benefit her, it’s her ticket to a local medical center to help a friend in need.
"I help this elderly couple, they're in their 90s,” Taylor said. “And she had a stroke, and she's in the hospital and so in order to get in there to see her I need a negative COVID test."
Carter Newton, who’s in elementary school, said he couldn’t afford to wait for the results from another test, so he went and got tested at CSU San Marcos because of the quick turnaround time.
“We got one, but that one takes a while to get back to you so we just went out and did this one,” Newton explained.
With the peak of the holiday season nearly one week away, the Rashid family needs negative results so they can go along with holiday traditions.
“It depends on if we see family members or not,” Rashid said. “Depending on her results, we’ll see what we do.”
The county is continuing to monitor services to see if more testing resources need to be moved around, according to Workman.