COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A massive line of cars formed in west Columbus on Wednesday filled with people wanting a COVID-19 test.
Everyone had a different reason for getting tested, including a want for peace of mind or fear they may have been exposed.
But all of them faced a wait.
“I just want to get it over with,” said Mark Murray of Galloway, who sat in line with this son. “”Been waiting for two hours this morning. Not really happy about it but need to get COVID tested for me and my son. We’ve been in close contact with somebody who is positive.”
For some people in that line, the wait for a test took up to three hours.
“I got up early and started work early, about 6 in the morning. So, I was kind of able to budget some time,” said Jessica Cass of Blacklick. “I told my employer I’d be back online in like an hour so, hopefully it’s not a problem.”
Despite the frustration, they all say knowing is worth the wait.
“It’s a very big ask but it’s important to get it done. I have the day off today, so we’re getting it done,” Murray said. “Definitely getting more worried every day. It’s not a good situation right now.”
One woman, however, said she still doesn’t know how her last test went a month ago.
“The last time I got tested, I never got my results. This time, I’m hoping to get my results,” said Carol Elswick of Columbus.
Demand has been especially tough on local health departments, who have been processing, reporting and tracing results for months.
“Right now, we have about 63 folks on staff and 58 are working on COVID,” said Chad Brown, Licking County Health Commissioner. “They’re still doing their day jobs too. Our essential services are still available. We’re still issuing birth and death certificates, we’re still doing food safety inspections, we’re still doing what we’re supposed to do with all this on top of it.”
With more cases comes more testing and ultimately more work for those departments that are already stretched thin.
“We’ve been able to reallocate some folks from different spots and shift some people around and change their duties,” Brown said.
Sitting in line today, some couldn’t help but wonder if the length of the line was a good sign or bad.
“I’d rather have people go and get tested and get results than not know and put themselves in the position that they could be spreading a virus that they don’t know they have. This is a priority,” Cass said.
The Ohio Department of Health says there are more than 500 testing sites across the state of Ohio with many offering tests at little to no cost.