Longer lines at testing sites as demand for COVID-19 testing rise

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Tuesday, the high demand for COVID-19 tests continued, causing long wait times and appointments booked for days in advance.

The Shelby County Health Department currently has 10 county-run testing sites listed on their website.

Some require appointments while others don’t, but across the board, people are saying the wait times are by the hour.

“I went to Poplar Healthcare out on Hacks Cross and it took right at three hours,” said Ashleigh Jackson, who got tested on Monday.

She said it was unlike anything she’s seen throughout the pandemic.

“It was nothing like this last year, I could go register, maybe wait 15-20 minutes, and I was in and out.”

The county testing sites open around 8 or 9 in the morning and close by 4 or 6 in the afternoon, when most people are at work or just leaving work.

Between the holidays and the surge of COVID cases, specifically the omicron variant, more people are getting tested because of symptoms, or just to be safe.

“Even though we’re going through the surge we know what to do to protect ourselves,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Michelle Taylor.

On Tuesday, the Shelby County Health Department announced on Tuesday a single-day record for new cases twice over the holiday weekend.

“This omicron is highly contagious and the only way for us to get a handle on the increase in cases is for everybody to join together and realize that until all of us are safe none of us are safe,” said Taylor.

As for what can be done, Jackson says she hopes the health department finds a way to keep up with the high demand and cut down on wait times.

“We definitely need more sites I think, we definitely need more sites that allow you to just register and show up vs. locking down a time,” she said.

As of now, we have not been able to confirm whether or not the health department plans to open more testing locations.