COVID-19 testing locations seeing surge of people looking for tests as cases rise

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 22:22:58-05

With increases in COVID-19 cases locally, more people are looking to get tested.

Tests such as rapid COVID-19 tests may be harder to find with this high demand.

“I drove all around SLO looking for rapid tests and the closest rapid test I found was in Santa Maria," said Kristopher Chavez.

With the scarcity of rapid tests, more people are turning to the county for testing.

San Luis Obispo County has four community testing sites in Morro Bay, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, and Grover Beach. Health officials at the San Luis Obispo testing site say they are seeing 595 appointments a day.

“Right now, we are just basically just taking appointments. We have very limited walk-in appointment availability just because the increase in demand for testing has gone up so much in the last few days," said Michelle Shoresman, SLO County Public Health Public Information Officer.

Although county public health officials don’t encourage walk-ins, some people like Chavez are resorting to this option.

“My brother was here a couple of days ago and he said he waited an hour and a half, but I think I was here for a grand total of 20 minutes," said Chavez.

Mia Lew says she has not had any luck scheduling appointments, either.

“It’s like, you have to do it very far in advance so if you need a test within a certain time, it’s definitely hard to get that," said Lew.

“If you go to a clinic and there are no walk-ins at that time, they will either ask you to wait and if they have no-shows they will try to distribute those no-shows, but it really isn’t recommended to walk in. It’s best if you have an appointment," said Shoresman.

If you are wondering what the best time frame is to get tested, health experts say it depends on the tests, whether it is rapid or PCR.

“If you feel symptomatic, and want to get tested to find out if you have COVID, I would recommend waiting at least a day or two because depending on the test, you may need a certain viral load to read positive if you are positive," said Chris Ecker, Infection Prevention Specialist at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

County public health officials say receiving results from county testing sites varies depending on how many people are getting tested. As of now, people should expect to receive their results within two to three days from testing. 

In addition to the county community test sites, SLO County Regional Airport also offers free COVID-19 testing.