As COVID-19 cases surge in Philadelphia, so does the demand for testing

Philadelphia is now averaging more than 2,100 new cases a day, up 237% over the past two weeks.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- COVID-19 cases are now hitting new highs.

The United States has reported more than 486,000 new infections in a single day, nearly twice as high as the worst day during last winter's peak.

Philadelphia is now averaging more than 2,100 new cases a day, up 237% over the past two weeks. It's fueled by the fast-moving omicron variant and the ongoing testing troubles.

As supply is an issue, some people are being turned away from testing sites. If you need a COVID test, long lines may be your reality.

"I am not surprised at the turnout. I knew we would have a lot of people before the holidays and after," said Makeida Thomas, a COVID site coordinator in Philadelphia. "People wanted to spend time with their families but they also, I am very happy, they were trying to be cautious to make sure they are not handing off COVID to their other family members."

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Lines filled up quickly at two pop-up testing sites in the city, one along Island Avenue and another on West Wingohocking Street.

There is a nationwide shortage of testing kits and a spot in line is a hot commodity. Some residents, curious about their COVID status, were turned away when the tests ran out.

"I don't understand, this pandemic has been going on for two years. This should be very easy for people to get tested so we don't spread this. I have a daughter-in-law that popped up positive on Monday. We are vaccinated but we still need to be tested," said Nicole Birckett from South Philly.

With the new omicron variant surging across the country, there are more COVID cases in the tri-state area. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says cases are spreading like wildfire.

The Action News Data Journalism Team found current cases in the city are the highest they've been since the pandemic began.

Last December, the peak hit a little over 1,200.

"From a pure numbers perspective, this is the height of the pandemic right now. This might be the most dangerous time because there are so many people getting sick," said James Garrow, Director of Communications with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The city says it's doing all it can to get more tests and has ordered hundreds of thousands more. It's now waiting to see how the Biden Administration will help.

"We had reached out and asked for support and hadn't' heard anything back and yesterday, during the briefing, the White House announced that they would be sending resources to Philly, so we are still waiting to hear and confirm details on that," said Garrow.

City health leaders say if you plan on heading to a walk-up testing site get there early and if you can't get tested right away, and think you have COVID, assume you're positive until you can get tested and isolate for at least five days.

"Whatever is out here you want to be safe. So the best way to be safe is to get tested and if you're vaccinated or unvaccinated, you still should get tested," said Sabrina Williams of Upper Darby, Delaware County.

CLICK HERE for a list of testing sites.
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