November 19, 2020 at 6:13 AM EST
As holidays approach, wait times rise for coronavirus tests amid record spike in cases
By Meagan Flynn, Michael Brice-Saddler, Julie Zauzmer and Rachel Chason
Thousands of people in the Washington region are flocking to public coronavirus testing sites amid a record surge in cases, with many hoping for negative results before visiting family over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The seven-day average of new cases across Virginia, Maryland and the District notched a high Wednesday for a 15th consecutive day, jumping to 3,830 daily infections. The spike propelled the region’s number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to more than 400,000 infections.
Public health officials are bracing for “substantial community transmission” as the holiday season approaches, said Natalie Talis, population health manager at the Alexandria Health Department. The dire warnings are accompanying an array of recent restrictions on social and economic activity as officials look for ways to blunt the virus’s spread.
The rising demand for coronavirus tests was evident Wednesday at several testing sites, where dozens or, at least at one location, hundreds waited for hours. Lines were short or nonexistent at other locations.