HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — With COVID-19 tests in high demand, the state has opened nine new community testing centers.
Two of them are in Hampton Roads: one in Newport News, the other in Norfolk near the current community vaccination center locations.
Each site will offer PCR tests that take a few days to get results back.
“We are tapped out on many different systems, our pharmacies, our hospitals, our urgent care so this is an additional layer,” said Suzi Trotter, the Virginia Department of Health Testing Co-Lead.
The first testing center in Newport News is at the Sherwood Shopping Center off Warwick Boulevard. The CTC services will be available in a heated tent near the same property as the Community Vaccination Center.
Starting Monday, January 17 it will be open every day except Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. by appointment only.
Trotter says they don’t expect lines with this appointment-based system and it also ensures everyone with an appointment gets tested.
“So far from our testing site yesterday, we’re running a couple of minutes per person. They do the online registration. When they get to the site their appointment is confirmed. Their requisition sheet prints out, and they get right through and out,” said Trotter.
While testing is being offered Monday at Norfolk’s Military Circle Mall, CTC services won’t start outside in tents until Tuesday, January 11. It’ll have the same hours and appointment process as the one in Newport News.
Dr. Parham Jaberi with the Norfolk Health Department says they’re looking at 500 appointments a day. 400 will be available online and then 100 will be determined by the health department.
“For individuals in a sensitive situation, they’re in the middle of an outbreak at a central job function. There’s going to be some play where a local health departments team is going to be able to use some executive management to fill those positions,” explained Jaberi.
However, he also realizes the demand is likely greater than the secured number of appointments.
“We served more than 500 on the first two testing events, so on the first day on Tuesday, there will probably be a lot more people than we can serve. But if people use the appointment-based system, they can look to the next day and the next day,” Jaberi stated.
Dr. Jaberi says towards the end of the month, he believes these testing centers are really going to put a dent into helping those who have really had a hard time finding testing opportunities.
Trotter says they’re opening up appointments continuously throughout the week as they get their space and vendors up. She says they have secured funding through the end of the month, then we reevaluate the pilot program.
Virginians who have not been fully vaccinated, or are eligible for booster doses, can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877) 829-4682 to find nearby vaccination clinics.
Those seeking to find or schedule a testing appointment can visit vase.vdh.virginia.gov/testingappointment.