Pre-Christmas rush for COVID-19 testing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you’re looking to get tested for COVID-19 before Christmas, expect to be waiting in line.

Not only are more people getting tested in preparation to travel for the holidays, but most local and state sites will be closed Thursday and Friday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Most private clinics will also close -- at least on Friday.

That set off a last-minute rush for testing.

“Protecting your family is really important from the virus,” said 7-year-old Aiden Heindl, who got tested so he could visit his grandparents and other loved ones.

Susan Rudgick said she arrived at the Regency Square testing site at 9 a.m. Wednesday to get a test before a trip to New York. It took her about two hours.

On Monday, the Regency site set a record for most tests in a single day, with 3,499 tests completed. The Florida-funded site is well-known, free to any resident of the state and a popular choice for patients looking to get tested. State officials said 2,831 people were tested on Tuesday. Wednesday’s numbers were not released, though News4Jax saw hundreds in line throughout the day.

The lines weren’t quite as long at the city’s other public testing site -- the Legends Center at 5130 Soutel Dr. -- which is also open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, but it received such a surge Wednesday it closed the line to anyone not already in line by 4 p.m. Like Regency, it will reopen Saturday morning.

Agape Family Health also offers the same testing and resources as the public sites. Its Northside location at 1680 Dunn Avenue and the Westside location at 5460 Blanding Boulevard are Wednesday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. offering rapid testing, antigen tests and PCR tests with no appointment required.

For a list of other testing sites in Duval County, go here. For Florida testing sites beyond Jacksonville, go here. To be tested in Southeast Georgia: visit the Coastal Health District or the Southeast Health District.

If you plan to get a test, save time by pre-registering at doIneedaCOVID19test.com.

Based on the Florida Department of Health’s most recent data, 8.78% of the 106,737 tests conducted Monday were positive.

“My Christmas wish to everyone is to have the vaccine – for everybody,” said one woman who asked not to be named as she left from getting her test.

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