Twin Cities COVID-19 testing sites report a pre-holiday rush

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People across Minnesota are looking to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of holiday gatherings.

Health officials said the supply is not the issue — it’s the high demand.

Testing site organizers said it’s important to get an appointment as soon as you can, or you could be waiting in line for a while.

It’s better to be safe than sorry — that’s why Alex Mereness, COVID-19 testing patient, said he’s getting a test before seeing family for the holidays.

"It gives you peace of mind," Mereness said. "The holidays are getting close. People are traveling. I have to do some traveling for work."

At the Minnesota Department of Health testing site at Roy Wilkins Exhibition Hall in St. Paul, officials said the demand for COVID-19 tests is through the roof.

Representatives with Vault, a health company that partners with the MDH, said rapid antigen tests are low in stock across the state, so their supply could run out.

But officials said there are enough PCR saliva tests to go around at MDH testing sites. Those tests give patients results in one to two days.

"It’s just nice to have the availability to come here and get the test done," Mereness said.

At Mall of America, hundreds drive through the COVID-19 testing site per day.

"We’re doing it for peace of mind just for our loved ones," COVID-19 testing patient Carrie Clark said.

The site is run by GS Labs, a private company offering rapid tests.

Medical experts said, for the most part, the results are reliable.

"Positives are positives. It’s just the way it is right. Even the take-home test, or the over the counter test is very accurate when it’s positive. They all vary on their accuracy when they’re negative," Dr. Darin Jackson, GS Lab’s medical director, said.

This week COVID-19 testing demand spiked 30 percent across their seven testing sites in Minnesota.

Organizers added extra staff and hours to keep up with appointments.

"It’s a little crazy. I didn’t really think that we would be here again getting tested," Clark said.

Some patients say they thought the first COVID Christmas would be the last, but keeping their family safe is still a top priority.

"I don’t want to get any family member sick. So since I’m feeling sick, didn’t want to risk that," COVID-19 testing patient Reid Meyer said.

Site officials predict Christmas Eve will be busy at testing sites. They’re urging patients to make an appointment to avoid wait times.