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Can’t find a COVID-19 test? Here’s what a health expert says you should do

Testing options limited as holiday weekend approaches

COVID-19 cases continue to hit all-time highs across the country ahead of New Year’s Eve.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – COVID-19 cases continue to hit all-time highs across the country ahead of New Year’s Eve.

As we head into the holiday weekend, options for getting tested are limited.

City-sponsored COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites with Agape Family Health and the Florida Department of Health in Duval County are closed Thursday and Friday.

So unless you find an at-home test, you might have to wait until Monday to find out if you have COVID-19.

Erika Rawnsley said she spent three hours looking for a test Thursday after she found out she was exposed to someone who was positive.

“So I called some CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to see if they had any in stock and they all just said no,” Rawnsley said.

But she eventually found one.

“Then one of the friends called a Winn-Dixie pharmacy and they said they had one and would hold it for 10 minutes if I went and got it right now,” she said.

Rawnsley was far from the only person looking to get tested Thursday.

For the third day in a row, Telescope Health’s testing site in Neptune Beach reached capacity before the end of the day.

Avecina Medical’s six locations are open Thursday and Friday, but they are out of appointments until Monday, unless you’re willing to pay $150 out of pocket for a rapid PCR.

Meanwhile, News4JAX couldn’t find any appointments available at CVS or Walgreens until next week.

The St. Johns County COVID-19 testing site at the Wind Mitigation Building at 3111 Agricultural Center Drive will be open regular hours on New Year’s Eve — 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. — but will be closed on New Year’s Day. For more information and to pre-register for an appointment, visit https://mdc.nomihealth.com/signup/fl/sjac.

UF Health Jacksonville’s Chad Neilsen reminds people not to come to the emergency room unless it’s an emergency.

“We are starting to see some people show up at our out patient centers, some of them are coming to our emergency department looking for testing and that’s just not the right route to go,” Neilsen said.

If you think you may be sick and testing is not available, Neilsen says to quarantine and stay home until you can.

LIST: COVID-19 testing sites in Northeast Florida | RELATED: Do at-home COVID-19 tests detect the omicron variant?

As for Rawnsley, her at-home test came back negative, but she says she’s going to quarantine for a few more days just in case.

There were a lot of questions as to whether at-home tests can detect the omicron variant after the Food and Drug Administration said they may be less sensitive at detecting the variant. Medical experts say the test is still extremely useful, but if the test comes back negative and you are symptomatic, it’s probably best to quarantine and wear a mask until you can get a PCR.

About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.