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Families rush to get COVID-19 tests before Thanksgiving gatherings

COVID testing
Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 18:11:32-05

COVINGTON, KY — As the COVID-19 threat level remains high in the Tri-State, some families are rushing to get tested before Thanksgiving gatherings.

Wednesday morning, a steady stream of cars snaked through the drive-thru testing lot on 4th Street in Covington. Karen Epplen and her daughter, Olivia, were two in the line.

“Olivia just got back from school," Epplen said. "She has a little bit of a cough, and we're just being safe before going around the grandparents."

Some in line said they were getting a test because they have symptoms or were required to take a test for work, however many were either flying out or planning to see local family members this holiday.

"To keep ourselves and other people who we may come in contact with safe," said Kevin Kobia, another person in line.

The Ohio Department of Health recommended people get tested before holiday travel as another delta wave surges in hospitals and more vaccinated residents are suffering from break-through infections. Hamilton County Public Health Spokesperson Mike Samet encouraged people to get tested out of an abundance of caution.

"If you’ve got people with compromised immune systems and what not, you may want to be ultra cautious," Samet said.

RELATED: ODH: Ohio COVID cases, hospitalizations 'going in the wrong direction'

Gravity Diagnostics provides the PCR tests for free. Those can be more accurate at detecting the virus in individuals who are not showing symptoms compared to over-the-counter tests. They are available at drive-thrus in Ft. Mitchell, Florence and Covington.

Director of Field Services at Gravity Diagnostic Jeff Wellens said the team there served 612 patients Tuesday. Nurses expected a record-breaking number Wednesday before the holiday.

“Everyone’s, you know, traveling," Wellens said. "Some have a need for international travel, they want to go see grandma and grandpa and have a sensitivity in making sure that they’re healthy."

Many airlines require a negative PCR test before some flights, costing $200 at CVG, so many opt for the free test at a Gravity Diagnostics location. A state partnership helps the company cover the costs, and the lab can process the tests in a matter of hours.

“We just completed, within the last week, our 3 millionth COVID test since the inception of this pandemic,” said Wellens. “So, with that volume, obviously we’ve been able to perfect the process, brought the right people in, brought the right equipment in.”

To see a list of testing locations, click here.

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